Eleven years ago, the Texas newspaper editor’s offer was enticing, his orders blunt: “Write about wines our advertisers can sell and our readers can buy.”
I own an advertising agency. I was a newspaper editor in San Antonio and New York City. I understood his angst and his demand.
The problem was availability of Texas wine—regardless of quality. Wine and liquor store owners—advertisers—were vexed when customers requested a Texas wine the store had no way of getting.
That was then. This is now. The Texas wine scene transformed during the past decade. Texas wine quality significantly improved. Texas wine availability significantly improved. Today, the Texas Hill Country AVA is the second-most visited AVA in the United States. It is time to focus on Texas wine, and in September and October, that is what this column will do.
The first thing you have to wrap your head around is scale. Texas is 268,597 square miles. France is 20,000 square miles smaller. Italy is less than half the size of Texas. California is more than 100,500 square miles smaller than Texas.
Texas wine regions extend all over the state. From westernmost regions in the Messilla Valley around El Paso, to the Davis Mountain AVA in the Big Bend, to the Escondido AVA on the Pecos, to the massive—and most important—AVAs on the Texas High Plains around Lubbock, where the most grapes are grown, and the Texas Hill Country AVA between Austin and San Antonio where the wineries and tourists rule. Oh, yes, there also is the Texoma AVA on the Oklahoma/Red River border.
Texas has acreage and wine vine-friendly terroir for growth and Texans have the money to prove the proverbial cliché of “to make a small fortune with a wine operation you have to start with a large fortune.” Nonetheless, many have broken the mold and accomplished real success.
This will be a different adventure for readers. The focus in this series is on Texas wine history, Texas viticulture, and Fredericksburg and the Hwy 290 wine road: tasting rooms, restaurants, places to stay. I enjoyed spending days this summer in Fredericksburg and surrounding area diligently researching for you, my loyal readers. I hope you appreciate my considerable sacrifice.
Last round: Diet tip: If you think you are hungry, you may just be thirsty. Have a bottle of Texas wine first and then see how you feel.