Texas wine AVAs episode #2 10-11-2023

Texas wine facts: Texas is the fifth-largest winemaking state, behind California, Washington, New York, and Oregon. And Texas wine is No. 3 in economic impact, just behind California and New York. Both rankings according to the National Association of American Wineries.

There are eight Texas AVAs (American Viticultural Regions). Last week we examined three around Fredericksburg, this week the remaining five.

• Texas High Plains. Heart of the Texas wine grape growing, a monster AVA spanning eight million acres of the Texas Panhandle, basically from Lubbock to Brownfield. Grows 80-plus percent of Texas wine grapes, supplying wineries across Texas and beyond. Located on the Llano Estacado, one of Earth’s flattest expanses. First thought—how could this be?

Topography. The elevation is 2,800 to more than 4,000 feet. It is called the “High Plains” for a reason. Such elevations include some of the world’s premier wine regions, especially in the Americas—think Chile and Argentina. Climate is dry, but there is irrigation. Sandy loam soil drains well and vexes phylloxera. Brisk winds thwart mildew. Plunging nighttime temperatures deliver important diurnal shift. That is a textbook definition of a wine grape region.

• Escondido Valley. Far West Texas, just north of the Big Bend. Covers 50 square miles, 250 acres of vineyards. Contains some of the oldest vines in Texas, provides hot days, cold nights, sandy soil. It once supplied grapes to the huge Ste. Genevieve Winery in Fort Stockton, but that enterprise folded. Now supplies grapes to the rest of Texas.

• Mesilla Valley. West of El Paso, includes part of New Mexico. There are 40 acres of vines that benefit from the 4,300 feet altitude; most of the vines are in New Mexico.

• Texas Davis Mountains. The Davis Mountains, part of the Rocky Mountains, are rugged and deliver 5,400 foot elevations, cooler temperatures, and more precipitation. Challenges, yes. Rewards, yes. The AVA is some 270,000 acres, but less than 50 acres of vineyards. The new frontier of Texas AVAs. Look for Blue Mountain Vineyard and Chateau Wright offerings.

• Texoma. The newest Texas AVA spans 3,650 square miles north of Dallas-Fort Worth and hugs the Texas-Oklahoma border, including Lake Texoma, from which it gets its name. More than a dozen wineries are based there, with tourism and events driving a major part of the operation, similar to the wineries and tasting rooms in the Texas Hill Country AVA.

Texas wine. Forty years ago, a snicker, maybe a guffaw. No one is laughing at the Lone Star State now.

Last round: The doctor told me my DNA was backward. And I said: “AND?” Wine time.