Gateway to the Texas Wine Country. That’s what some people are beginning to call the charming area around THE SCULPTURE RANCH, from the beautiful carpet of flowers that greets you when pull in to Johnson City, to our front gate just off Flat Creek Road, and on down Highway 290 to Hye and beyond.
Just an hour from both Austin and San Antonio by car, our little corner of the Hill Country is one of the most accessible places to visit for beautiful scenery, a growing wine and beer industry, and, of course, ART.
There is so much to do around here, I’d have to write a book to fit everything in, so let’s just begin with One Perfect Day.
Say you are setting off from Austin or San Antonio at 9am. You will arrive in Johnson City, the first town on the Texas wine trail, in about an hour. Drive THROUGH Johnson City (wait for it, JCTX neighbors, we’re coming back to you). Just 15 minutes down 290, WILLIAM CHRIS VINEYARDS opens at 10am. Who cares if it’s still morning? We’re talking about ONE perfect day. Have some wine!
Thirst slaked, head across the road to the HYE MARKET, housed in one of the Hill Country’s best-preserved old post office/general stores. It is most definitely a unique, colorful little place you don’t want to miss, with their own kitchen garden and terrific sandwiches, flatbread pizzas, and other delicious fare. Pick up a picnic lunch and another bottle of wine (trust me, you will already have bought several at WILLIAM CHRIS, but hey—you can never have too much wine. It keeps, if you can resist drinking it right away). HYE MARKET also has beer and soft drinks, so you are all set.
Turn back in the direction of Johnson City. On your right, just before you get into town, you will see a life-sized silver bull sculpted by local artist Bettye Hamblen-Turner, along with several other large iron and steel sculptures. That’s Flat Creek Road. Turn right and take a stunning 5.3-mile country drive, through the hills and past the grazing cattle, deer and antelope, to THE SCULPTURE RANCH. Visit our 14,000-square-foot indoor gallery and walk, bike or drive our 2 miles of trails. Here you can spread your picnic out on one of our tables under the trees in the presence of nearly 100 monumental outdoor sculptures, any of which you can take home and enjoy on your own property. No worries—if you can’t fit a sculpture you love into your car, we deliver! In many cases, as with our beautiful kinetic pieces by Scott Sustek, the artist will personally install them on your property.
By now it will be around 2pm. Head back down Flat Creek Road, make a right back onto 290, and in moments you will be in Johnson City. Browse—and buy—at the shops. We particularly like TEXCETERA for top-quality local crafts. Stop by ECHO for incredible finds in the vintage furniture and objet d’art department. URBAN RANCH and RUSTIK BY CHOICE, plus several fun antique, vintage and salvage shops, will satisfy your retail therapy jones. If you need a pick-me-up, have coffee at BLACK SPUR EMPORIUM (my favorite is the iced cold brew, but Grumpy Barrista Mark Macola has lots of options when it comes to fine coffee).
Now you are ready to peruse some more fine art. A. SMITH GALLERY has a continually-evolving line-up of the best in photography, while LEE CASBEER should be your destination for figurative painting and art restoration. Several other art dealers are opening up on the main square as well, so you’ll have more reasons than just visiting THE SCULPTURE RANCH to make a return trip to our neighborhood.
Next stop: TASTE WINE + ART, where you can sip another glass of wine while you take in their collection of local art and jewelry. Continue your wine-tasting adventure at HAHNE VINEYARDS TASTING ROOM, where owner Gary Hahne is busy perfecting his German ancestors’ history of Texas wine-making.
By now you will be hungry again, right? Right next door to Hahne is PECAN STREET BREWERY. Patti and Tim and their team make great wood-fired pizza, along with a full menu of tavern favorites, their own micro-brewed beer, and a full list of Texas wines by the glass or bottle. Plus, they have a dance hall, with music most weekend nights. Or, you can walk the short distance back to Main Street for dinner at the EAST MAIN GRILL. If fine dining is your preference, the new menu at BRYAN’S 290 has been getting rave reviews.
So now you’ve had ONE PERFECT DAY at the Gateway to the Texas Wine Country. You’ll want to come back, of course, maybe even with your family, so I’ll save my recommendations for a longer stay for another post.
All of us here at THE SCULPTURE RANCH are eager to meet you and make sure you have a world-class experience. This Spring our gate is open Thursday through Sunday from 12-6, but if the weekend doesn’t work for you and you want to play hooky from the city, call us! We are also open by appointment.
As Lyle Lovett says, even if you’re not from the Texas Hill Country, “We want you anyway!” Come on out and see us!