About Texas Wine Country
Texas has a long history of wine production. The sunny and dry climate of the major wine making regions in the state have drawn comparison to Portuguese wines. Some of the earliest recorded Texas wines were produced by Spanish missionaries in the 1650s near El Paso. The Texan wine industry is continuing its steady pace of expansion and has gained a reputation as an established wine growing region in the United States.
Texas is one of the oldest wine growing states in the US, with vines planted here more than a hundred years before they were planted in California or Virginia. In the 1650s, Franciscan priests planted Mission vines in West Texas, near modern day El Paso. The vines were a necessity in the production of sacramental wine used in theEucharist.The horticulturist Thomas Munson used Texas vines to create hundreds of hybrid grapes and conducted significant research in finding root stock immune to the Phylloxera epidemic, which saved the French wine industry from total ruin. The advent of Prohibition in the United States virtually eliminated Texas’ wine industry, which didn’t experience a revival until the 1970s, beginning with the founding of Llano Estacado and Pheasant Ridge wineries in the Texas High Plains appellation near Lubbockand the La Buena Vida winery in Springtown. The Texas wine industry still feels the effects of Prohibition today with a quarter of Texas’ 254 counties still having dry laws on the books.
Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay have the highest number of plantings in the state, followed by Merlot, Syrah, and Muscat Canelli as leading variety in acreage planted. Texas is also home to Zinfandel,Tempranillo, Sangiovese, and Viognier plantings. The Texas Department of Agriculture lists twenty-one wine varieties grown in Texas. From 2005 to 2010, large increases in plantings have been seen for varietals like Syrah and Muscat Canelli, while others like Sauvignon blanc and Chardonnay have declined.