Texas is famous for a lot of things such as big hats and buckles. Perhaps you remember the TV show, Dallas, being set there. However, did you know that the state has a prolific wine industry? It produces a long list of different varieties and in this article, we are going to tell you about these and what makes Texas an ideal place to grow grapes and produce wine.
The climate of Texas is hot and dry for a lot of the year so is the perfect setting for producing wine. This is not to say that cooler states can’t produce wine because they can, but flavours may be different.
You may be surprised to learn that wine production began in Texas in the 1600s with the early settlers. There is a large family called Vitis that has a big share of the market. There are 36 members of the family working in the wine industry, with 14 of them being born in Texas.
You will find over 400 wineries in Texas, most of which you can visit to sample and purchase their wines. Only Oregon, Vermont, and California have larger wine industries.
At the University of Texas, there are 1000 acres of land that are used for grape production. It leases some of this land to winemakers as well as producing it themselves.
Texas Wine Regions
Texas has 8 primary wine regions and you will find that not all their wines are produced in all areas. Some regions are more suitable for certain varieties. All of the regions attract tourists who want to learn about their wines. Texas wines are, in fact, known to be some of the best in the US. Here, we’ll take a look at the different regions and the wines they produce.
Bell Mountain, Central Texas
Because Bell Mountain is in the centre of the state, it doesn’t border other states. This means that all the vineyards are contained within Texas and, unlike other regions, doesn’t share vineyards with other states.
This region is 3200 acres large and there are at least 9 wineries for you to visit. The Bordeaux varieties, Malbec, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon are produced here, along with Syrah. Winemakers have started to experiment with Viognier and Riesling. Riesling is usually only successful in the state’s cooler areas further north, so we shall see what happens.
Mesilla Valley, West Texas
This valley does pass through New Mexico but is still part of the Texas wine-producing area. It is a small region and measures just 50 acres of vineyards. Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, and Syrah are produced here. However, because there is a small amount of wine producers, it rarely reaches other states of the US.
Texas Hill Country
This region is situated between cities such as Austin and San Antonio, so if you are planning to visit these cities, why not pop into a winery to taste their wine. If you like darker reds, you will find Merlot here. They also produce Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, and Pinot Noir. However, the vineyards take up quite a small area, about 47 acres, and there are only 2 wineries to visit. Still, they are worth the trouble if you like any of these wines.
Fredericksburg, Texas Hill County
This is the place to come if you want to go wild with wine tasting. There are 50 wineries and there are even shuttles taking you from one winery to another. They produce Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Merlot, and Pinot Noir here. A survey taken in 2013 revealed that 32% of the people going to Fredericksburg went there for the wineries, which is pretty good going.
This region is composed of 3200 acres, but not that much has been used for wine production. There are only a few wineries to visit here. Because the vineyards are tucked away, not much of the wine produced is exported worldwide.
The soil here is composed of silky loams and clay. There are also limestone areas and all this means that the grapes produced are excellent in wine-making. Wines produced here include Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Texoma is close to Oklahoma, hence the name. There are 233,000 acres in the region and Texoma is the second largest wine producing region in Texas. The main wines produced in this area are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Viognier, Zinfandel, Sangiovese, Syrah, Tempranillo, and Muscat Canelli.
Texas Davis Mountains
This is one of the most recent regions to be added, having been put on the AVA list in 1997. The region measures 270,000 acres which are composed of both flat ground and valleys. which are situated in the Davis Mountains. The vineyards can reach heights of 8,000 feet. The colder air helps to produce dry whites, as well as Zinfandel, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Texas High Plains
Most of the vineyards in the Texas High Plains region are on flat ground between 3000 and 4000 feet above sea level. It is dry here so the vineyards are irrigated from the Ogallala Aquifer. The Aquifer is a water table that is surrounded by clay, gravel, silt, and sand.
Visitors are attracted to this region and the most popular wines include Merlot, Malbec, Tempranillo, and a Southern Red Blend.
The climate and soil might be different in different areas of Texas, but there are excellent grape growing areas all over the state.
The Wine Varieties of Texas
You may be surprised to hear that there are numerous wine varieties produced in Texas. We are going to take a look at some of them here.
Merlot originated in France and means ‘The Little Blackbird’. It is a dark blue-purple wine that is now produced all over the world. It is very popular in Texas with both locals and tourists. It has flavours and aromas of plums and red berries. It is full-bodied so you can taste it for a long time after you have sipped it. The tannins give it a smooth silky feel. It is a wine that goes well with red meat, especially steak.
Texas Zinfandel is another full-bodied red wine. It is an interesting wine as sometimes you can taste just one flavour and then another, or you may get a mixture of both. The flavours include cranberries and cherries and there are floral notes. It is great served with spicy Indian food and a cheeseboard.
This is another red wine. As you can see, red wine is popular with locals and tourists alike. Texas Sangiovese has hints of fruit and a little tartness, as well as earthy undertones and tea leaf notes. The wine pairs well with tomato-based dishes so pasta, in particular meatballs with spaghetti in a tomato sauce.
The grapes used to make Syrah in Texas are thought to be the best grapes in the state. The wine is full-bodied and the colour is deep red. When you come to drink it, you will taste berries and plums. The wine pairs well with red meat, wild game, and pizza. It is also a good accompaniment to beef stew.
This red wine is produced in a number of regions in Texas. It has fruity undertones, but there is also a hint of vanilla. It pairs well with lamb meatballs and beef gyros. However, despite being a red wine, it is also good sipped with seafood paella.
Malbec is usually produced in Argentina, but Texas makes a good version of it. It is fruity, with berry notes, and there are also spicy flavours. It pairs well with heavy meat dishes like beef stew. It also goes with some fish such as swordfish and shrimp. It complements vegan and vegetarian dishes as well.
This wine can be found in different regions of Texas. It is a dry red wine that has strong flavours of cherries. It pairs well with grilled steak, lamb, strong cheese, and even chocolate. Why not try it with chocolate mousse. You may be surprised by the way the dessert and wine pair.
Pinot Noir is a light-bodied red wine and although it pairs with grilled red meats, you can also drink it with fish and white meat like chicken. Although it is a dry wine, it does have a hint of sweetness.
Lenoir is such a dark red colour that it is almost black. It smells and tastes like raspberries and cherries and because it has added brown sugar in it, it is sweet. It is best paired with duck and brisket, which are meats that go well with a sweet wine.
Now we are onto the white wines and Pinot Grigio is one of the favourites in Texas. It is a smooth, light, and crisp wine. It tastes like lemon, lime, white nectarine, and apple. It can have light honey notes and floral aromas like honeysuckle. It goes well with light dishes such as seafood and salads.
Blanc de Bois
The grapes used for this wine come from a hybrid grape that was specifically created to make this wine. It has, in fact, become one of the most popular wines in Texas. There have been many varieties of this wine, dry, semi-sweet, port, and sparkling wine. It is a fruity wine that pairs well with cheeses and even some desserts. It will also goes well with vegan and vegetarian food.
Chardonnay is the most popular white wine in the world and Texas Chardonnay will live up to your expectations. It is produced in oak barrels and you will get a slight hint of oak when you taste it. It also tastes like citrus and you might get a green apple flavour. It pairs well with lightly cooked shellfish such as crabs or prawns. If you want to drink the wine with appetizers, consider fish pate or a meat or vegetable terrine. It also goes well with pasta in a creamy sauce and risotto.
The Texas Riesling is very popular. It has light fruit flavours and a floral aroma. It tastes like orchard fruits such as nectarine, peach, apple, and pear. You may get an aroma of honeycomb, jasmine, and lime peel. Good food pairings include salmon and tuna, as well as spicy Asian dishes and chicken.
Chenin Blanc originates in France, but the grape flourishes in Texas. It is a versatile wine and can be made dry, sweet, or sparkling. It has floral aromas and tastes of pears and apples. If you want to eat while drinking this wine, choose fish, seafood, chicken, salads, and spicy Asian dishes.
The Sauvignon grape does well in a hot climate and so naturally thrives in Texas. It tastes of bell peppers and tropical fruits, as well as there being a hint of tart grapefruit. It is the ideal wine to drink with a cheese board at the end of a meal. It also complements oysters, shellfish and white fish such as halibut and cod.
This wine is a little different and so is exciting. It is a light orange colour and tastes of orange peel and gooseberry. It pairs well with salmon and other fish, as well as a dessert. The wine suits fruity desserts but also chocolate ones. Have you never eaten chocolate with an orange flavour? They are a perfect match.
This wine has aromas of orange blossom and rose. It tastes of white peach, mandarin, and lychee. You may also get a taste of honey. It pairs well with almost anything, but melon balls and ham as well as soft cheese go well. Try it with a light curry or Asian noodles. If you are a vegetarian or vegan, this is a good wine to choose to go with your meal. Seafood, quiche, omelettes, turkey, vegetable risotto and avocado salad are also good choices.
Muscat Blanc is similar to Moscato in flavour. Both have peach and citrus fruit flavours and the grapes are harvested when they are at their sweetest as a sweet wine is what is wanted. Because it is so sweet it is not the best wine to serve with meat unless you are going for a spicy dish. Otherwise, drink it with a cheese board or chocolate desserts.
This wine has a medium finish so you don’t have to worry about it being too dry or too sweet. It has hints of figs and fruits such as melon and pineapple. It has a crisp finish and pairs well with fish and seafood. It also goes well with pork and chicken, especially if the food has an Asian twist.
This wine balances sugar and acidity well. It has a high alcohol level which might make it taste sweeter than it is. It has low to moderate acidity and can be spritzy. It tastes like rose, apricot, and tropical fruit. There might also be pepper and spice notes. Serve it with fruit, nuts and cheese. It also goes well with spicy Asian dishes.
You Need to Know These Four Things About Texas Wine
There are Some Annual Wine Events
In early April, the Austin Food and Wine Festival is held. As well as sampling many delicious wines, you can get food and beer for those who don’t like wine. However, they are all out to change your mind about wine. There are even cooking demonstrations where they will tell you the best wines to choose to go with the food.
Another yearly event, also held in April, is the Fort Worth Food and Wine Festival. Visitors can try out new wines from different wineries or perhaps even rediscover older varieties. There is plenty of food on offer that is included with the ticket price.
In October, the Gruene Music and Wine Festival is held. Here you get to taste wines from all around the world, not only those from Texas.
Texas Wine Has a Long History
We have already said that wine was produced in Texas as far back as the 1600s. The main area for the production was El Paso. The dry, hot, and sunny climate of Texas encouraged people to grow grapes. As a lot of the immigrants were from Portugal and Spain, wines from these regions were produced.
The Region Matters
Wines grown in different regions of Texas won’t be the same. Some grapes prosper in a hot climate while others like cooler weather. For example, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc prosper in a warmer climate as in the Texas Davis Mountain valleys while Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay are produced in the Texoma wine region which is cooler.
Texas is Well Regarded as a Wine Producer in the US
It may not surprise you that, because of so many popular wine regions, Texas is the fourth largest wine producing state in the US. Part of the reason is that there is so much land dedicated to growing wine grapes. Another reason is that there are over 400 wineries here. They are prolific in producing wine and invite people to sample their goods. In addition, although red wines are big in Texas, there are also plenty of whites so everybody can be happy.
The Top 10 Texas Wines
We have compiled a list of what we think are the best wines produced in Texas.
1. 2017 Duchman Family Winery Trebbiano.
This wine is fruity and you will get tastes and aromas of grapefruit, lemon, green apple, and white peach. The lemon flavour is zesty and will leave a lingering taste which is very pleasant.
2. 2017 Berklee Hill Vineyards Banna Sue.
This is a white wine that is made with Muscat Canelli grapes. It is great served with a fruity dessert as you can taste tropical fruits in the wine such as pineapple, tangerines, orange blossom, and ripe peach.
3. 2016 Kulhman Cellars Malbec-Merlot
When you taste this wine, you will get flavours of raspberry and blueberry. It also has a smoky flavour and can be paired well with barbecued and smoked meats.
4. 2016 Kuhlman Cellars Zinfandel/Vino
If you enjoy red wine you will want to try this. It has tastes of savoury herbs and even leather. It would go well with a steak.
5. 2015 Westcave Cellars Reserve Sangiovese
The flavour is earthly and gives ints of tart fruit. You might also get cola notes and red cherries. It has soft tannins and you might get a faint taste of coffee.
6. 2016 Grape Creek Vineyards Cabernet Trois
If you enjoy a tart wine, you will enjoy this variety. It has flavours of black cherries and green jalapenos.
7. 2017 Berklee Hill Vineyards Montepulciano
This is a fruity wine and you don’t need much more. It is an excellent wine as it has flavours of cherry cordial, blackberries, raspberries, plums, and even eucalyptus flowers. It has a bright finish with a cocoa undertone.
8. 2017 Lost Draw Cellars Grenache
This is a wine you will enjoy if you like cherries and the aroma of red flowers. It is highly acidic and also has some earthy flavours.
9. 2016 Lost Draw Cellars Malbec
This Malbec features strong fruit flavours such as plum, raspberry, and strawberry. There is also a hint of savoury herbs which work well with the fruit flavours.
10. 2015 London Winery Tempranillo Reserve.
This is an unusual wine and should be tried if you are looking for something different. You will taste not only dark fruits but parsley, as well as chocolate. It could be served with a chocolate dessert like a mousse.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many wineries are there in Texas?
There are 400 wineries in Texas so you have plenty of choices when you are looking to taste wine. California, Oregon, Washington, and New York have more wineries, but Texas is catching up.
What is the oldest winery in Texas?
The oldest winery in Texas was set up in 1883 and is called Val Verde. Since then, four generations of the family have produced wine there in small batches. They produce sweet red wines, rose, Blanc de Bois, and Muscat. They have a wine club so you can order wines online.
Are Texas Wines Any Good?
It is a warm to hot climate in Texas and this produces excellent wines. There is a long list of varieties produced here, both red and white.
Although it seems as if red wines take precedence in Texas, perhaps due to the barbecue culture, there are wines produced here that will suit everyone. White wine-lovers aren’t left out and there is a good range produced.
Texas has been producing wine for well over 100 years so it is not new. The winemakers have had plenty of time to perfect their wines and produce new varieties. Texans also love their wine so are discerning critics of what has been produced. It doesn’t matter which wine-growing region you choose to sample, the chances are very high that you will find a wine to suit you.