Wine is booming in the United States, and Texas yearns to be part of the story. The Lone Star State already is the fifth-largest wine producing state.
Before firing up your Texas braggadocio machine, however, be mindful that Texas and 48 other states remain vinicultural Lilliputians compared to California’s Brobdingnagian wine industry.
Texas is fifth-largest wine producing state, but it achieves that by making just one-half of one percent of wine produced in the U.S.
In 2008, California produced 500 million gallons of wine, almost 90 percent of all wine made in the United States. New York produced 35 million gallons (one gallon for every 14 California gallons), Washington 20 million, Oregon 5.1 million, Texas 2.5 million, North Carolina 1.4 million, Florida 1.3 million, Ohio 1.1 million.
Texas proudly has around 170 wineries. California has more than 2,800; Napa County alone more than 400.
While Texas is no threat to top wine states, it is part of the conversation. Wine production is the most lucrative agricultural use of land, so naturally the Texas Department of Agriculture vigorously pushes wine production.
“Wine represents a growing industry that has a $1.35 billion economic impact on the Texas economy,” Ag Commissioner Todd Staples said in May when he announced a $1.2 million grant for grape-growing and wine-making education and research.
The Texas wine industry pays $150 million in local, state, and federal taxes. One million people spend more than $300 million on wine-related tourism each year in Texas, numbers that steadily rise.
Wine. Texas. It’s happening.
• Fall Creek Vineyards Granite Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. Cherries and black fruit, acidity helps it belly up to barbeque. $11
• Becker Vineyards Iconoclast Cabernet Sauvignon. Black fruits, easy drinking, excellent value. $11
• Llano Estacado Chardonnay. Dry, fresh fruit, minimal oak. $13
• McPherson Sangiovese. Bright cherry, plum; mellow “Old World” flavor. $17
• Brennan Viognier. Un-oaked; peaches and citrus. $22