The wine industry is among the most prominent and most important industries in the Lone Star State. It has been around since the 1650s, and until now, it is still a big part of the Texan culture and a huge help in the state’s economic growth.
The industry started when some Spanish missionaries planted several grapes near the Rio Grande River just about El Paso, a city in Texas. From that day forward, there have been over 500 wineries and over 5,000 acres of vineyards in the state. This gave Texas the title of the 5th wine-producing state in the United States.
The Texas wine industry plays a huge role in the state’s economic development. Every year, the industry contributes 13.1 billion dollars to the economic value of Texas. It also provides over 104,000 full-time jobs to the people, which provides wages equivalent to 4.3 billion dollars.
Before the Prohibition in Texas, the state was home to several small winery businesses. However, because of Prohibition, these businesses halted the production of wine, and only one winery survived – the Val Verde Winery.
Post-Prohibition Texas Wine Industry
In the 1970s, the wine industry in California was starting to develop, and during these times, several people had already pioneered the grape-growing industry in Texas. Some of them include Clinton McPherson, who taught chemistry at Texas Tech University, Ed and Susan Auler, who were the founders of Fall Creek Vineyard, and Bob Reed, who, in 1976, founded the Llano Estacado Winery in Lubbock, TX.
After the Prohibition, in the 1980s, many studies proved how the state has a large grape-growing potential, which led to the development of the viticultural industry in Texas. Agritourism started growing in Texas, and just like that, the wine industry started attracting over 1.7 million tourists annually, making Texas the second most visited wine region in the country.
Texas wines taste better and better as the Texas wine industry grows. This was made possible by the never-ending research and experimentation of the winegrowers in the state. Their research helped them know what varieties are ideal for the climate and soil in Texas. For instance, Tempranillo and Sangiovese red grapes, and Picpoul, Roussanne, and Vermentino white grapes adapt and grow really well in the state.
Other interesting facts about the Wine Industry in Texas
Some may not know, but the Texas Panhandle grows over two-thirds of the grapes in Texas.
Although most of the wineries in Texas are located in the Texas Hill Country, most of the wine grapes in the state are grown in the Texas Panhandle. Texas wine industry is not similar to other wine regions wherein the vineyards are found in the same area where the majority of the wineries are located.
The oldest winery in Texas is located in Del Rio in Southwestern Texas
The only winery that survived during Prohibition was the Val Verde Winery, and until now, it produces great wines and is the oldest operating winery in the state. This winery was established in 1883 by the Italian immigrant Frank Qualia. At first, he grew grapes only for a family vineyard, but then he started their Winery business and became successful in the state’s wine industry.
Until now, the Val Verde Winery supplies sacramental wine for many church services. The vineyard still has several grape varieties, such as Herbemont vines, Blanc Du Bois, and Black Spanish grape vines.
Some of the best wineries you must visit in Texas include
Messina Hof Winery- This winery was established 45 years ago in Bryan, TX. It’s a family-owned winery and is the number one producer of Texas wine.
The Messina Hof Winery has 50 different wine varieties and among their iconic flavors include their Beau light red wine and Paulo Sagrantino, their dark red wine. This winery produces over 130,000 gallons of wine annually and is located in three different regions in Texas.
Fall Creek Vineyards- Fall Creek Vineyards is a winery located in Tow, TX, and is known for its world-class wines. It produces a wide range of flavorful wins, which you can enjoy during the warm summer days and the cool winter nights. In 2016, Fall Creek’s ExTerra Tempranillo obtained an “Outstanding American Wine” award from James Suckling, a famous wine critic.
Fall Creek Vineyards has extended its operation in Driftwood, TX, which gives off an immaculate ambiance of a great Texas Hill Country adventure.
Duchman Family Winery- Another family-owned winery and another one located in Driftwood is the Duchman Family Winery. It is among the most beautiful wineries in the state and centers mainly on Italian-inspired wines.
It is a great place to visit because, aside from the breathtaking views of its vineyards, the Duchman Family Winery produces wine made from 100% Texas-grown grapes. The winery produces high-quality wines and gives off a picturesque view of the hills of the Texas Hill Country, making your stay a fun and unforgettable one.
Grape Creek Cellars- Grape Creek Cellars is a winery located in Fredericksburg. It gives off a Tuscan vibe because of its elegant Italian Villa wine tasting room. This winery consists of over 100 acres of vineyard, producing award-winning and high-quality wines in the state.
The Grape Creek Cellars offers cellar tours and wine tasting, which is a great experience for all visitors. Among their must-try wines are the Viognier and Sangiovese, both giving a rich and spicy taste.
Becker Vineyards- This winery is located in Stonewall, TX, and is among the oldest wineries in Hill Country. The Becker Vineyards is the third-largest winery in the area and has served its wine to several highly-respected venues, like the White House.
What makes Becker Vineyards one of the best wineries to visit in Texas is the picturesque view. As you visit this winery, you’ll enjoy delicious hand-crafted and great-quality wines, like the Bordeaux and Burgundian wines, while watching the stunning lavender fields right next to the winery. Aside from this area, you could also enjoy your wine on a huge covered patio, providing a great and elegant ambiance while wine tasting.