I still run into people who think Texas wines are bad. They don’t buy Texas wine and have no plans to do so. They've perhaps had it in the past, didn’t like it, and haven’t tried any since. Or someone brought a bottle over a few decades ago. No bueno. So, they've shut the door based on a mediocre experience, back when the grapes were imported and the wines were sweet. In a way, I don’t blame them. I mean, who wants to buy crap wine?
However, times have changed. The talent has taken root, along with the grapes. Our agricultural supply allows us to aim for 100% Texas grown fruit. An impossibility just a few years ago. The wine is better, and now Texas is one of the fastest growing wine regions in America. Top winemakers and wine professionals are now here, and even more investment, talent, and wineries are coming. Not only are Texas wines now good, many are outstanding.
Texas wines were not always good. It's true.
However, there is a catch: You have to go to Texas wine country to find this out. And it is for that reason you will still hear people ask, Are Texas wine’s any good? That, or declare that Texas Wines are sweet. But that’s a whole 'nother article.
The Truth About Texas Wine
I’ll say it: Texas wines were not always good. It's true. Wine is not an easy undertaking to master. It can take years. Decades. Generations.
100 years ago Woodrow Wilson decided to cripple the wine industry here in America with Prohibition (allowing the Federal Reserve, Income tax, and getting us into WWI just wasn’t enough apparently). There were up to 50 wineries in just the Hill Country alone before the Volstead Act shut them all down. Imagine where we would be with all those German, Italian, and French immigrants perfecting their craft and passing that knowledge on to the next generation? The family tradition would have a whole new meaning. We wouldn't have to guess which grapes would work, which vineyard practices would yield the best fruit, and which winemaking techniques would best suit our cellars.
The truth is, Texas has more untapped vineyard lands left in the Northern Hemisphere than any country! Well, I don’t actually know if that’s true, but I would put a twenty on it. There is a sweet-spot where wine grapes can grow, 50ºN to 30ºN. Texas has more of that than anyone else in America, and of that I have no doubt.
Not only are Texas wines now good, many are outstanding.
Texas was the first place the European grape, Vitis Vinifera, was planted back in the early 1600s. Though, some say New Mexico was first and then Texas. I’m OK with that. We beat California to it, and that makes me happy. It should make you happy too. We are a wine growing region. That takes some time to get used to. Yes, Texas makes wine. I know, its crazy. Texans needs to scream that from atop their ride alongs and deer blinds. We need to hug our local winegrowers and drink the fruits of their labor. Wine is agriculture. Your wife or husband is not allowed to get mad at you for supporting your local farmer. Even if they are from California. They live in Texas now. So, drink Texas wine.
So that’s what we do. Texans drink Texan. We support Texas Agriculture, and Texas Farmers, and our local businesses. Our winemakers and wineries get better every vintage. Our industry gets better every vintage. We are experimenting. We are making mistakes. We are learning, and we are getting better. We are perfecting our craft and adapting for regional challenges. We are tweaking the process based on the unique properties of soil and weather. We are learning what customers like, and what they don’t like. Customers are learning what they like, and what they don’t like! Texans are finding out that palates change. What you find satisfying one season you find sweet the next. Texans didn’t grow up with wine, but they are now.
The Texan Palate
Does the winemaker make the best wine he or she can make? Or do they make what the current customer palates demand? The change in palate is evolving faster than the wineries. What the customer wants in one decade can change from the next. In the 80s it was sweet and pink. Sutter Home Wine Zinfandel was the queen of middle-class refrigerators across America, not just Texas. Along with all Americans, we eventually upped our game to dry reds, but it took some time. There are still plenty of red wine drinkers who still have not made that last step in their wine journey, by the way. Some still do not drink white wine. We all know at least one. These things take time.
Why Do People Still Think Texas Wine Is Bad?
That is an easy one to answer. They are not taking the time to go to visit wineries. Is every single winery knocking it out of the park? No, of course not. But I can tell you where you will not find the Texas ones that are: the grocery store. Yes, there is a Texas wine section at HEB. No, that is not a good representation of Texas wine. You gotta get off your kiester, stick it into your pickup truck, and go and take a weekend getaway to Wine Country. We have one now in case you haven't heard.