Hill Country Sips: A Tale of Two Brothers and Their Wines

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All photos for Pillar Bluff Vineyards are by Sharon Young. All photos for Texas Legato Winery are by Lori Triba.

Texas Hill Country natives Gill and Bill Bledsoe don’t just share a passion for grapes and the same last name; they’re also twins. Yet as similar as they may look, each of them grows their own grapes favoring different varietals and creating wholly unique wines from the other.

Pillar Bluff Vineyards lies just outside of Lampasas on the border between Lampasas and Burnet counties. A wide open ranch gate welcomes your arrival to the winery perched just a short distance from Pillar Bluff Creek. Pillar Bluff is Gill’s winery and consists of eight acres of vines.

The grapes Gill grows known as “the five noble grapes of Bordeaux” include malbec, petit verdot, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, and merlot. White varietals include chardonnay, chenin blanc, and viognier. Gill chose the varietals based on the makeup of the alluvial soil and abundance of limestone in the area. Only later did he learn that the limestone of this area bore characteristics of the mineral, dolomite, found in the wine-growing region of northern Italy. The result is a more flinty soil instead of chalky one, making his varietal choices even more ideal for the area.

gill on tractor

Gill became interested in wine-making while in the military and stationed in Georgia. A newspaper recipe for muscadine wine intrigued him and his wife, and soon they were making wine from the recipe annually. The thing is, they got pretty good at it. Others thought so, too. They decided to get serious about wine-making after determining “that coffee filters make lousy wine filters.” Then a mix-up involving their eight-month-old niece, a sippy cup, and the latest batch of muscadine wine convinced them that wine should reside in properly labeled wine bottles and not recycled cranapple juice containers.

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