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A 5-star escape awaits at this new Texas Hill Country vineyard bed-and-breakfast By Kristin Butler 6.20.17 | 11:30 am

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Just a 45-minute drive west of Austin, past sparkling lakes to Sunrise Beach Village on the southeastern edge of Llano, you’ll approach a gorgeous vineyard beside an enchanting, two-story home: The Vineyard B&B at Lost Creek Ranch.

Vines crawl up the iron railing of a staircase that leads to an elegant, wrap-around balcony and five, well-appointed rooms — each with vineyard views. Beneath the stairs, vines and a rose bush climb stakes to the edge of the balcony overhang, offering a canopy of shade. Flowers planted in Italian-style pottery frame the wide corridor leading to the spacious dining room and outdoor amphitheater, carved into the gentle slope of the land and leading to a gazebo-style stage. A towering tree presides over the scene. At dusk, strings of white lights draped across its branches set the romantic ambiance.

The natural design lends a Tuscan vibe to the 3.2-acre property. That would come as no surprise, if you knew the owners, Kathy Stockton and Dave Oswald. The pair regularly retreat to a bed-and-breakfast in Tuscany — or at least they did, prior to moving from Dallas to their new vineyard home last November. For more than six months, they have worked tirelessly to restore the grounds and renovate the building, originally built in 2008 and formerly the site of the Tree House Bistro.

Today it’s completely transformed into a boutique destination, which held its grand opening in May. The innovating couple regularly refers to it as “a work in progress” — particularly when it comes to the vines. The all-Shiraz vineyards once produced award-winning wine, and the duo hired the original vineyard manager to breathe new life back into the vines, first planted in the late ’90s.

Stockton likens their B&B to an inn, because rooms open to the balcony — in contrast to traditional B&B style, in which guests access their rooms through a living room or common area. She is continually enhancing the guest experience with intimate and luxurious touches. “We try to bring in luxury elements to blur the lines between a B&B, an inn, and a five-star hotel,” she says.

Each of the B&B’s five accommodations are named after a different grape varietal, and designed to embody its characteristics. Think elegance and extravagance in the Champagne Room, dressed in pearlescent shades and accented with rich chocolate walls and plush throws. The Zinfandel Room befits the grape’s spicy reputation with rustic elements like a weathered, barn tin roof (salvaged from San Antonio) that covers an entire wall.

The inn’s one suite houses the traditional and sophisticated Cabernet room, decked in burgundy and dark wood, and the Cabernet Franc room, its more whimsical counterpart with Parisian flair. Optional, double-sided doors can divide the sister rooms. The cozy rooms also feature modern amenities, like flat-screen televisions, free Wifi, and of course a wine fridge and long-stemmed glasses.

Stockton, who hand-crafted the headboards in every room, is responsible for the charming design and every thoughtful detail at The Vineyard B&B, down to the pressed, lavender-scented linens. She even performs a bedtime “turn down,” rolling back the comforter and sheets, and placing chocolates on your pillow. She dimly lights beautiful (electrical) candle arrangements that offer a serene glow, perhaps the only light you need while winding down for the night.

Downstairs in the dining room, breakfast awaits — made with locally sourced eggs and seasonal ingredients. While Oswald, an IT veteran, may disclaim that he’s not a “professional” chef, you would be hard-pressed to find a more delicious morning meal.

An award-winning grill master, he competes on a barbecue team dubbed Tex’s Smoke. A few of his trophies and medallions adorn the reading nooks of the Vineyard B&B’s expansive dining area. His famous Tex’s Smoke Eggs Benedict delivers a twist on traditional eggs Benedict with smoked brisket and a touch of Tex’s Smoke barbecue sauce. Smoked paprika and cayenne hollandaise sauce top the freshly poached egg. Served with grilled breakfast potatoes, it’s divine and filling.

He also makes a mean homemade, smoked salsa — with mild, medium, or hot heat. If he prepares his delightful Vineyard Egg White Frittata for you one morning, his signature salsa lightly dresses the fresh spinach. Pico de gallo, sliced avocado, cheese and bacon bits crown the plate, and finely diced cucumber provides a refreshing crunch. Don’t even get us started on the mouthwatering Stuffed Brioche French Toast, bursting with in-season berries and cream cheese, cooked in an egg wash until golden brown. That's only a glimpse of the many gourmet breakfast dishes that he whips up.

When The Vineyard B&B at Lost Creek Ranch plays host to large events, he anticipates bringing in guest chefs and catering services. The amphitheater, coupled with the 2,800-square-foot dining space (outfitted with a 15-foot antique bar, wood burning oven, and full-commercial kitchen), make for an ideal venue for weddings, anniversaries, business events, or simply a romantic weekend getaway. Stockton envisions the Cabernet Franc and Cabernet room, which features a fold-up, Murphy bed, serving as a bridal suite.

Guests are encouraged to traverse the entire property — even into the neighboring Sandy Creek Cellars’ vineyards. Situated near Lyndon B. Johnson Lake, The Vineyard B&B is just a short drive from boutique shopping, exquisite dining, live music, water sports, or a round of golf. The owners also recommend guests visit several local wineries.

While you may come for the scenery and local attractions, stay for the company. It’s evident Stockton and Oswald have found their life calling. The gracious couple, who met about 14 years ago and wed in 2009 on a beach in Jamaica, happily engage guests in conversation or respect your privacy at your preference. Frequent B&B travelers themselves, they understand the delicate balance of quiet solitude and social interaction.

The couple often hosts an afternoon happy hour for guests with wine and snacks. “It gives us an opportunity to get to know them, why they came here, and what their interests are,” Oswald says.

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