From the Founder, Ashley McCafferty
The inspiration for Hill Country Vin de Vie came not at one specific moment, but rather over many years, when certain experiences, specific moments, formal and informal education as well as professional experience began to fuse together and form into a real vision. It was a life changing realization that I could create a business that would incorporate my hill country heritage, my passion for and fascination with wine, my love of travel and my wonder and appreciation of the natural world.
I was born in Austin, Texas to a family whose Texas history goes back five generations. From a young age I was happy to list off facts about Texas and proclaim Texas is the best to anyone who would listen. Though my future would lead me all over the world, Texas always remained my true home and there was never a doubt I would return.
While attending college studying history and political science in Denver, CO, I was fortunate enough to secure a position with a well known world wide tour operator, Globus & Cosmos, and I worked through school in this role. After graduation, I moved up into management of group bookings and eventually, into tour operations where I learned all of the ins and outs of operating tours all over the globe. I was able to travel the world and took pride in ensuring that others would experience the dream of travel through the work I was doing.
In 2011, I moved back home to San Marcos to help my father conquer his illness. During this time, Dad and I would go driving through the Hill Country, a favorite pastime of ours. At my request, he was happy to stop at wineries we came across along the way. I learned that Texas wineries had made great strides in the years I'd been gone and many were producing impressive wines that I was thrilled to taste! This great wine, served by friendly, local producers, combined with the always beautiful scenery of the Texas Hill country inspired us to start day dreaming about the possiblity of taking people to visit these wineries. It would be a uniquely Texas take on the French wine tour I'd experienced. Where their wine was old world, steeped in tradition and elegance, ours was new, bold, inventive and exciting, not to mention the Hill Country holds its own to natural scenery all over the world. Talk about a perfect place for a wine tour.
With Dad all better and the idea for Vin de Vie fresh in my mind, I began to search for my new career. I found my answer in a bustling Texas wine shop in Historic Gruene. In my role as General Manager, I was thrust head first into the world of Texas wine. I worked with wineries from all over the state, customers from all over the world... and I tasted wine, lots and lots of wine. I brought the best of those wines, the most interesting and tastiest choices to the thousands of happy customers that came to taste Texas wine at the shop. It was such a treat to meet and interact with the owners and wine makers, to have direct access to ask questions about the entire production process. During my time there I was featured on Texas news programs as a Texas wine expert on several occasions, one of which you will find embedded here. In total I worked with wines from 80 different Texas wineries and was responsible for millions of dollars in sales of Texas wine as well as Texas craft beer. In my five years as the General Manager at the Grapevine, I got the further experience and education I needed to make Hill Country Vin de Vie a reality.
In 2010 I journeyed through France. Fate and a desire to taste great wine led me to Beaune, in the heart of Burgundy to seek out my first wine tour. Our knowledgeable guide took us into the vineyard to explain how and why they were pruning and what happened during each season on the vineyard. We were given a tour through the Chateaux, eventually reaching the cave where we would experience the fabled wines of Burgundy. I was blown away by Chardonnay, however, when I tried the Pinot Noir for which Burgundy is so famous, I was shocked to find that I did not care for it! In subsequent years I've developed a great appreciation for the elegant Burgundy red, but my new world palate wasn't quite ready to appreciate it just then. It is often true that people's palates change over time; the more you taste and learn, the broader your horizons and understanding. In spite of the fact that I did not like the red, the wine tour itself was thoroughly enjoyable as well as educational and made a lasting imprint on me. It is, in fact, a nod to this experience that we call the business Vin de Vie, French meaning Wine of Life, or Wine Life.
Here's How It Happened
Year of the Dream
With the spring of 2016 came the certainty that the time had come to make the dream of Hill Country Vin de Vie a reality and I began looking in earnest for the perfect bus. It had to be vintage, it had to be customizable, and it had to be in excellent condition. After an intensive search I finally found her and made the big leap. This led to months of renovation in which I truly learned the value of sweat equity and finally, Hill Country Vin de Vie was ready to roll in early 2017. As you can see, Vin de Vie is a culmination of years of experience and passion that have fused together to create the perfect Texas wine enterprise. I hope that you'll join us, I can't wait to show you the Hill Country Vin de Vie!
Hill Country Vin de Vie is dedicated to promoting local producers of stand out Texas Wine and the beauty of the Texas Hill Country through a unique and engaging wine tour experience. We have deep roots here in Central Texas, the love of the land and the appreciation of her bounty flows within us just as the rivers flow through this beautiful part of Texas. Traversing the hills, taking in the scenic vistas, the fields of flowers and vines and of course, tasting the delicious wines, fills us with intense satisfaction and happiness. We love sharing this experience with people from all over the world. We have the local knowledge, the local contacts and the years of experience to guide you on a fantastic Texas wine tour.