Texas Wine & Vineyard Education
Texas Wine & Vineyard Education
When it comes to wine, regionality is everything. Providing a true sense of the geographical region in which grapes are grown based on its soil, terrain, and climate, this is known as a winery’s terroir.
In the Lone Star State, there are eight official AVAs (American Viticultural Areas), offering wine lovers a diverse range of locally-sourced varietals — many of which are bold, intriguing, and full of Texan character.
What Makes Texas a Unique and Ideal Place to Grow Fruit for Wine?
In Texas, grapes have grown wild for centuries. Offering fifteen native species, Texas has more native species than anywhere in the world. As settlers arrived, bringing their wine-producing knowledge, the state’s wine industry later began to grow and evolve in the late 1800s.
Today, Texas is known as the fifth-largest wine producing state, with more than 200 wineries scattered throughout the state. More than a quarter of which reside in the Hill Country.
Although there are a number of ideal growing regions throughout the state of Texas, the two main regions are Hill Country and High Plains. In Hill Country, for instance, the terroir is quite different than other Texas-based regions, resulting in wines that are complex and unique.
This is based on the growing conditions, which include ample sunshine, rocky soils, high elevation, and the presence of limestone. This results in wines that are often more tannic and bold in comparison to the more fruit forward, often subtle wines grown in High Plains.
Common Varietals Found in Texas
In the 1980s, much of the wine produced in Texas was made from varieties that were popular, household names. However, it quickly became apparent that some of the varieties were simply not meant for the climate in Texas. By making this transition, farmers not only increased efficiency, but also quality and consistency.
For example, Texas winemakers who once grew Chardonnay crops ran the risk of losing a significant portion of their yields due to a potential hail storm — which happened in 2013. In comparison, those who were growing Mourvedre were blessed with above-average yields.
Although native crops tend to thrive, that does not mean that varieties native to Spain, France, or Portugal are not successfully grown in Texas. Albariño is a perfect example. This white grape yields a wine that is dry, yet refreshing, making it the perfect alternative to pinot grigio.
Today, some of the most common and successfully grown varietals include but are certainly not limited to:
- Sangiovese, such as the Sangiovese Texas High Plains 2017 from Bent Oak Winery
- Roussanne, such as the 2015 Roussanne or “Texas Chardonnay” from Torr Na Lochs Vineyard & Winery
- Cabernet Sauvignon, such as the 2016 Reserve Wilmeth Vineyards from Becker Vineyards
- Mourvèdre, such as the 2015 Mourvèdre offered at Bending Branch Winery
- Tannat, such as the 2016 Reddy Tannat from 1851 Vineyards
- Viognier, such as the 2016 Brennan Vineyards Classic from 4.0 Cellars
- Tempranillo, such as the 2016 Tempranillo from Spicewood or the 2016 Pedernales Cellars Tempranillo Reserve
- Norton: 2015 Stone House Vineyards Claros
It’s important to note that when bottles are labeled as “Texas wine,” they are required to contain at least 75 percent Texas-grown fruit. However, some wineries choose to make their wine from 100 percent Texas grapes. To learn about Texas fruit, grown in Texas soil, and grown by local Texas farmers, ask in the tasting room about how a winery sources its grapes. Texas is a proud leader in the wine industry.
Whether you are a wine enthusiast or are simply looking to expand your wine knowledge, Texas is the place-to-be when aiming to experience all that this