The last few years I had the opportunity to live in both San Francisco and Napa Valley and work in the thriving California wine industry. Overall it was a very enriching experience; I learned a lot about the micro-climates that dictate Northern California's growing seasons, met some notable winemakers from around the world, and tasted some excellent vino on a regular basis.
During my time there, one thing that always bothered me was that when I'd tell someone I'm originally from Texas, more often than not, they'd respond with something asinine, like, "Texas?! Do they even make wine in Texas?" It's similar to when I returned to Houston and I'd mention what I'd been up to over the last few years; sometimes I'd hear, "San Francisco?! So you one of them shoeless, pot-smoking hippies?" Human ignorance knows no bounds.
As we're closing out October, Texas Wine Month, why not take a look back into our state's rich history in wine? Vino has been produced in the Lone Star State since the 1600s, when the Spanish Missionaries cultivated grapes for communion wine. T.V. Munson, from Denison, Texas, was responsible for saving European vines in the 1880s from the deadly Phylloxera louse when he grafted them to the phylloxera-resistant Texan rootstock. He now has several statues in Europe honoring him, as well as Denison High School's Munson Football Stadium. We are in Texas, after all. In the 1970s, Doc McPherson started producing wine in the arid West Texas plains near Lubbock with his Llano Estacado Winery, and is said to be "The Father of Modern Texas Wine."
But it hasn't been until recent years that more Texans have started taking pride in its diverse growing regions to produce good wines that are symbiotic with the soil and climate here. It's impossible to forget how conservative the state is, and that politics and religious ideologies could have something to do with the slow progression. However long awaited, it seems like people are catching on, and those behind the Texas Wine Commission gotexanwine.org have proven that we need to take our grape-growing seriously by putting a lot of effort into the marketing, as well as keeping wines from the left coast at bay.
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All of the hard work is starting to pay off, as was recently exemplified when 10 Texas wineries brought home more than 20 medals from the San Francisco International Wine Competition in July. Do they even make wine in Texas? I beg your pardon, we make award-winning wine in Texas!
For a complete list of 2010 Award Winners, click here.
Wineries to watch out for:
Haak Vineyards, Santa Fe, Texas Brennan Winery Becker Vineyards McPherson Cellars Lone Oak Winery Fuqua Winery Sister Creek Flat Creek Grape Creek Vineyards Llano Estacado Winery