Fredericksburg: Main Street, U.S.A.04/09/2023
By Gary Dickson
About 10 miles (16 kms) southeast of Fredericksburg, Texas lies the historic town of Luckenbach… population 3. “Everybody’s somebody in Luckenbach,” says my new friend, Hayden Whittington. “It’s been ‘several years’ since I first started coming here and I will always keep coming here to play my music till the day I die.”
I could tell, even with his broad Texas accent, that ‘several years’ meant a hell of a long time. He looked like he could easily replace Dusty Hill in ZZ Top at the drop of a hat, but he took the time to explain to me the history of this ‘town’.
Luckenbach attracts large numbers of people who want to simply relax, have a drink and listen to great music played by some unknown musicians and by some extremely famous musicians.
Hondo Crouch and Guich Koock bought Luckenbach from Benno Engel in 1970. Engel being a direct descendent of the original settlers from the 1850s. The present general store that still sits on the site today was built by the Engel/Luckenbach families back in 1851 and until ownership passed to Hondo and Co. it remained in their family the whole time.
Hayden recanted the most number of stories I have ever heard in one brief afternoon visit to this famous town. Some true, some maybe not, but all conveyed in such a way I felt like I was sitting listening to my grandfather tell stories, sitting on the front porch when I was a kid.
Most days there are two acts playing, with Hayden’s current schedule seeing him playing every Friday afternoon from 1pm till 5pm…if you’re about, pop in and introduce yourself. Maybe he’ll tell you a few stories as well.
Back in Fredericksburg my accommodation for the next two nights was Hill Country Herb Garden (www.hillcountyrherbgarden.com). A boutique-style accommodation with 14 cosy cottages, each with a front porch, bedecked with swing and rocking chair, an in-room mini-bar and where your breakfast is delivered to you fresh every morning.
They also have a day spa and a surprisingly fine restaurant and bar for such a small establishment. Try their filet mignon with one of their garden inspired cocktails.
Exploring Fredericksburg is easy. Main Street is only moments away from almost anywhere; it’s flat (despite being smack in the middle of Texas Hill Country) and there are plenty of bars and restaurants (with air-conditioning) to pop in and out of once the temperature starts to rise. Take advantage of that…stay hydrated.
Fredericksburg Brewing Company:
Their operation began in 1994, within months ofthepassing of State legislation allowing brewpub operations in the great state of Texas. Long before the craft beer craze was ‘a thing’ they were cranking out delicious award-winning brews. They are officially the oldest operating brewpub in the state, I guess you could call them the “Granddaddy” of brewpubs in Texas.
Located on Main Street Fredericksburg (as most shops/bars/restaurants are), it is also acceptable to purchase your beverage and walk along the sidewalk consuming said beverage. That’s right, take a cold craft brew on a sidewalk stroll down Main, how American is that? I’ve only ever seen it in one other place…New Orleans.
You may even like to fill a Growler (American term for a jug) – a glass, ceramic or stainless steel jug used to transport draft beer.
In keeping with the German heritage of the town the pub serves German fare, pizza, burgers, salads and everything in between. The Brewery sits in a restored 1890s era building and, apart from the main dining/bar area, also has a large, air-conditioned ‘biergarten’. (www.yourbrewery.com)
Becker Vineyard On Main:
Twenty minutes drive east of Fredericksburg lies the small town of Stonewall, where the Becker family has their vineyard. But don’t worry about drinking and driving because they have a very classy tasting room and store bang in the middle of Main Street in Fredericksburg.
Walk-in tasting for you and your partner allows for your choice of six award-winning wines to sample. For a group you can enjoy 6 pre-selected samples from Becker Vineyards, both options costing just US$ 25 – open 7 days a week. (www.beckervineyards.com)
Texas Heritage Vineyard:
If you do actually feel like the true ‘cellar door experience’ then head a short distance out of town to Texas Heritage Vineyard for wine tasting, or grab a bottle and head out the back to sit on their expansive deck overlooking the vineyards and listen to some great country and western music. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays between 2pm and 4pm will satisfy the urge.
I got to speak to one of the owners and head winemaker. Now I know people who make wine are passionate about what they do but at Texas Heritage Vineyard that would be a massive understatement. These people live, sleep, eat (and drink) wine on a daily basis. (www.texasheritagevineyard.com)
Not everything to do in Fredericksburg involves eating and drinking (unless you want it to of course). For a bit of history head to the very well laid out Pioneer Museum – you guessed it, also on Main Street.
In the mid-1840s, Germans looking for a better life were reading and hearing about Texas as a land of limitless opportunity. They risked everything to get to Fredericksburg, as it became known, thus bringing their German culture to the heart of the Texas Hill Country.
The Pioneer Museum recounts their travels, struggles, wins and losses on 3.5 acres of ground and showcases hundreds of everyday artifacts in 10 buildings, four of which are still on their original spot. Take your time and stroll through the grounds at your leisure. It is very well signed and much information can be gleaned from the signs and boards all around the grounds. It’ll take you around an hour.
Just two blocks closer to the main bar/ restaurant scene in Marktplatz, and also on Main Street, is the Vereins Kirche (Society Church) – a replica of the first public building constructed by the pioneers in 1847. Originally it was built as a church, school and community centre. (www.pioneermuseum.org)
To finish off my brief visit to Texas hill Country I did a very American thing…I took a stroll down Main Street – shops selling genuine leather boots and hats, jerky, whiskeys, clothing and bric-a-brac are all here waiting for you to simply pop your head in the door. And when you do you’ll receive a broad smile and a genuine “Welcome! Come in y’all.”