When you think about Texas, vineyard may not be the first thing that comes to mind. You might be surprised to know that there are vineyards in Texas that are among the best in the world. If you love travel and wine tasting, then you cannot miss the Dallas Wine Tasting experience!
Wines from vineyards in Texas have often been compared to wines from Portugal because of the sunny and dry climate in the state which has contributed to its long history of producing wines. Texas vineyards are among the first planted vines in the US, way before vineyards started in Virginia or California.
The history of vineyards in Texas starts with the Franciscan priests who planted vines in the 1650 because they needed wine for the sacraments. Today, there are three major regions where Texas vineyards grow. These are the North Central Region, the South-Eastern Region, and the Trans-Pecos Region. Almost 40% of the state’s grapes come from here and more than two-thirds of all wines produced in Texas are from this region.
The North Central Region stretches from New Mexico to Dallas. You will find the highest concentration of Texas vineyard growers here. The South-Eastern Region includes areas in Austin to the Mexico-United States border. The Trans-Pecos region has the highest altitudes in the state.
In the Texas High Plains, the sunshine during the long days, followed by the cool nights, is a haven for the vines. Common diseases that usually affect vines are prevented because of the wind that is a constant presence over the flat terrains. Vineyards in Texas get their harvest season in July.
Texas vineyards are helped along by the soil that is calcareous and red sandy loam with moderate-to-low fertility. This is similar to the ones in Australia. Irrigation sources that also help maintain cool temperatures during the summer are the Ogallala Aquifer. It also acts as a buffer against the hail and temperatures that are common in winter.
The plantings in Texas vineyards are commonly Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, which are highest, followed by Syrah, Merlot, and Muscat Canelli. There are almost 21 varieties of vines planted in the vineyards of Texas, with 200+ vineries which produce over 4000 tons of wine. For wine lovers and travelers, this is a treasure-trove of wine tasting adventures!
Texas now ranks as the fourth largest wine producing state in the United States. An experimental vineyard was established in Texas by the University of Texas which is now over 1,000 acres and is the largest producer of wines in the state. This has been leased out to a group of wine makers who produce Bordeaux wines.
There are eight viticulture areas in Texas. These are the Mesilla Valley, Escondido Valley, Bell Mountain AVA, Fredericksburg, Texas Hill County, Texas High Plains, Texoma, and Texas Davis Mountains. Cabernet Sauvignon is especially grown in the American viticulture areas of the Texas High Plains, Texas Davis Mountains, Fredericksburg, and Bell Mountain AVAs. Texas Hill country is the most promising AVA currently.