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Fredericksburg, Texas: Geologic Setting, Selected Wineries, and Frontier History

Peter R. Rose

The town of Fredericksburg is located in the broad valley of the east-flowing Pedernales River, lying between high-standing, east-reaching interfluves of Edwards Limestone, erosional remnants of the vast Edwards Plateau, which lies west of the town and extends westward, unbroken, for 250 miles, into Trans-Pecos Texas, and southwestward into northern Coahuila, Mexico. The northern Edwards interfluve forms the southern rim of the Llano Basin, in which are exposed Paleozoic and Precambrian rocks of the Llano Uplift. Fredericksburg itself is situated primarily upon sandstones and mudstones of the Lower Cretaceous Hensel and Glen Rose Formations, and also upon recent alluvial deposits of creeks that are tributary to the Pedernales River.

In general, the Hensel Formation underlies most of the deep, sandy and loamy arable land in the Pedernales valley east of Fredericksburg, which is used for growing grain, hay, peaches, and, increasingly since about 1980, wine grapes. Here the Hensel Formation ranges up to about 100 feet thick, and rests unconformably upon faulted Paleozoic and Precambrian formations.

We shall visit three wineries: Grape Creek, Woodrose, and Becker. All three have vineyards adjacent to the wineries; all are planted in deep soils developed on the Hensel Formation, because they are well-drained, thick (allowing extensive root-system development), and flat (thus easily cultivated). The Becker winery is the largest and oldest (founded in 1992). The present Grape Creek winery has been developed since about 2006 on a Tuscan theme from an earlier (~2000) winery of the same name that failed because of an outbreak of Pierce’s Disease. The Woodrose winery is more of a boutique winery with fewer varieties grown, under new ownership since 2005.

Fredericksburg has a colorful history: founded in 1846 by German immigrant settlers led by Johann von Meusebach, met with Comanche Indian tribesmen in 1847 to sign a peace treaty that allowed the new colony to take root and grow. The U. S. Army founded Fort Martin Scott in 1847; it was one of a series of military posts established to guard the frontier settlements in western Texas. Almost none of the German settlers were slave owners, and most were strongly unionist with regard to the impending Civil War. This led to a series of violent reprisals by Confederate Home Guard militias during 1861-1865.

During Reconstruction, German settlers benefitted under the Republican Carpetbagger government, which further aggravated relationships between German and Anglo-Celtic settlers. Most of these were ex-Confederates, early stockmen and cattle rustlers who utilized the nearby Dodge City Trail (it passed about two days’ ride west of Fredericksburg) during 1872-1882. Rampant theft of German settlers’ livestock associated with cattle-gathering for trail drives led to a range war known as the Hoo-doo War of 1874-76, settled eventually by Texas Rangers.


AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90164©2013 AAPG Southwest Section Meeting, Fredericksburg, Texas, April 6-10, 2013