A Taste of Texas Wine
October 4, 2010
By Marissa O’Connor
At this year’s Texas State Fair you can sample some of Texas’ finest homegrown food and drinks; corndogs, fried margaritas, guacamole, fried lattes, and wine produced in the Texas Hill Country.
A number of Texas wineries have assembled a wine garden as a relaxing oasis for those who need a break from the ferris wheel and fried chicken. For just two tickets visitors can sample a variety of different red and white wines while enjoying live music.
A Rich Heritage
The Lone Star State is well known for it’s rich history in oil, football, and barbeque. What many people don’t know is that Texas also has a long tradition in wine production, dating as far back as the 1600’s. More than a hundred years before grapes were planted in California, Spanish missionaries began planting grapes near present day El Paso.
In the 1800’s European settlers came to South and Central Texas. Using grapevine cuttings brought over from their native countries some Europeans established vineyards. In the late 19th century, back in France, grape growers faced a devastating epidemic of phylloxera, tiny insects that feed on the roots of grapevines.
It was a Texan who was credited for saving the French wine industry during this time.
“A guy named Thomas (T.V) Munson from Denison, Texas used the Texas grapevines and grafted it onto phylloxera resistant rootstalk so they wouldn’t die,” said Bob White of Texoma Wineries. “That’s why today Cognac, France is sister cities with Denison, Texas.”
And a Promising Future
After prohibition, wine production did not really start up again in Texas until the 1970’s at that point, California’s wine production was booming.
“Though wine has been around in Texas since before the prohibition it is becoming more and more popular in recent years,” said White.
The media has begun to notice the increasing popularity of Texas wine, and this September Texas Hill Country was ranked the top “hidden-gem” among U.S. wine regions according to Away.com
“I absolutely love it that you can go to wineries right here in Texas to learn and sample all different tastes,” said Tessi John, a Mansfield resident. “Austin has a great Hill Country perfect for making wine and many people in Texas don’t even realize it.”
Texas is currently the 5th largest wine producing state in the country and the industry continues to grow.
“Texas wine stacks up fairly well,” said John White, a Dallas resident. “As a native of California I’m prejudice, but as an adopted Texan now, Texas wine definitely outshines New York wine.
If local wineries can market their brand properly, White believes Texas wine will bring good competition for wine produced in California and Europe.
“Get yourself a Texas six-shooter, a six-pack of wine, that should sell right there,” said White. “I think Texas wine will definitely catch on nationally, wineries just need to market it better so more people across the globe know about the rising of the Texas wine industry.”
The Wine Garden of The Texas State Fair features wines only grown in Texas. It is open through October 17th from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays through Mondays, and from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays.