Everything may be bigger in Texas, but the state’s wines can be surprisingly light on their feet. With many areas that are hot and dry, the state shows an affinity for Old World varieties common to regions such as Southern France and Spain.
Wine isn’t new to Texas. The first grape vines can be traced to the 1600s. Its modern winemaking era began with plantings in the 1970s in West Texas, but the majority of the state’s grapes are now grown in the Texas High Plains American Viticultural Area (AVA). Located in the northwestern part of the state, its sheer size provides plenty of opportunity.
“This truly is a winemaker’s paradise,” says John Rivenburgh, winemaker at 1851 Vineyards. “Hundreds of varietals, six or so microclimates creating neverending options for a winemaker to experiment and enjoy their craft. Anyone with some basic training can run a program that has the same fruit in the same condition every year.”
The two main grape-producing AVAs in the state are Texas High Plains and Texas Hill Country. Both, fortunately, were unaffected by Tropical Storm Harvey. Other than that, they could not be more different. Hill Country, in the south-central part of the state, has expansive, rolling hills and rocky terrain. It’s dotted by adorable towns with buildings constructed from the region’s plentiful limestone and features lots of tasting rooms. The limestone also makes for excellent soil, which helps protect vines from mold and mildew in this humid region.
At over 9 million acres,
Texas Hill Country is one of the largest AVAs in the country
Albariño, Cabernet Sauvignon, Mourvèdre
Tempranillo, Vermentino and Viognier
Texas High Plains
AVA grows more than 80%
of the state’s wine grapes
Texas High Plains is far more varied in its soil types, but has predominantly sandy soils. What really sets this region apart is its elevation, which varies between 3,000 and 4,000 feet above sea level.
While little of the wine from either region leaves the state, the development of the Texas Wine Trails has made it easier than ever for visitors to taste true Lone Star wine.