Texas is considered a bit of an upstart in some wine circles, but the history of winemaking and grape growing goes back to 1662 when the first vineyard in North America was established by Franciscan priests. The industry developed over the centuries until today, when there are 8 AVAs in Texas with 4,000 acres of vineyards and over 400 wineries. The AVAs exist throughout Texas in various landscapes, including desert, hill country, and plains. As a result, Texas vineyards are able to support a large variety of grapes.
Chardonnay is easily one of the most well-known varietals and is grown in Texas, but it is challenging to grow here. A less well-known but widely grown grape in Texas is Lenoir. You don’t see this one everywhere but it is a popular option for southeast Texas because of its resistance to Pierce’s Disease. Pierce’s disease was a major problem in the past in southern climates where the winters are mild, so many grapes with a resistance to the disease are planted in these areas. Fortunately, strides have been made to combat the disease so it isn’t so devastating. Shiraz is also a good grape for Texas because it can handle a lot of different growing conditions. Some of the newer to Texas grapes that could make a big impact in the future are tempranillo and sangiovese. Both of these grapes come from hot climates (Spain and Italy, respectively), which makes them perfect for Texas. I happen to like wines made from these grapes, so I’m pretty excited.
So, how does one best celebrate Texas Wine Month? My vote is to hit a wine festival or a wine trail. I love doing these events because you are exposed to a large variety of wines from different wineries. If you’re looking for a festival, check out my post on fall festivals around Texas. If you’re more interested in a wine trail, here are several around the state to try:
Bay Breeze Wine Trail East and southeast of Houston
Bluebonnet Wine Trail Wineries between Houston and Austin and between Houston and College Station
Cross Timbers Wine Trail North and Central Texas
Dallas Town and Country Wine Trail Around Dallas
Piney Woods Wine Trail East Texas
Texas High Plains Wine and Vine Trail In the high plains, not far from Lubbock
Texas Independence Wine Trail Between Houston and San Antonio, running north to south from La Grange to near Victoria
Thirsty Oaks Wine Trail Between Dripping Springs and Wimberley in the Hill Country
Way Out Wineries Between Austin and Dallas
Wine Road 290 Along 290
If you’re interested in learning more about Texas wine, the Texas Wine & Grape Growers Association is a great resource with information about the industry and wine related events around the state. I hope you have a great time exploring Texas wines and the wineries that make them. You’ll get a chance to try some delicious wines and experience true Texas hospitality along the way.