Did you know that the State Fair of Texas is a major supporter of Texas wine? While the State Fair is only open for 24 days, its reach is enormous. Over two million attendees visit the State Fair of Texas held annually in Dallas at Fair Park. They spend millions of dollars at the fairgrounds and beyond its gates.
As a long-time supporter of Texas agriculture, it is only fitting that the fair offers Texas wine. This year, I was tasked with developing a wine list for the Texas Wine Garden. Fair guests will be able to enjoy these wines in sample-sized pours, by the glass, and by the bottle. Prices vary depending on bottle price.
How is a wine list created? In this case, I started by investigating what types of wines the fair have offered in the past and what has sold well. I wanted the list to include white wine, rosé, red wine, and sparkling wines. Fairgoers want both dry and sweet wines, so both must be on the list. I was also pleased to include two canned wines. Walking around the fair with a wine glass may be challenging, but a can of wine is a perfect alternative!
Variety is important and a list with 75% of one grape variety just won’t work. The list includes both single varietal wines and blends. A detailed wine list at the point of sale gives a brief description of each selection. Sweet wines and limited production wines are indicated on the menu.
As you can imagine, the fair receives hundreds of deliveries from various vendors and the logistical challenges of a complicated wine list must be considered. Most of the wines on the list are from wineries that have distribution partners, but some of the wines selected are from wineries that do not have wide distribution. These wineries had to drive their own wines to Dallas. I’m glad that these smaller wineries with more limited production were willing to participate.
Of course, I had to make choices based on price as well. I wanted to avoid expensive choices that may go unsold. I had hoped to include a few specific red varieties, but I could not find wines at the desired price point. Maybe next year, Mourvèdre!
Wine availability proved challenging, and a lack of inventory may require some pivots as the fair progresses. I made sure there was a minimum quantity available in order to be considered for the list. Some wines have more stock available for reorders, and some do not. A few times I was excited about a wine on a distributor’s price sheet, but then found out that the wine was discontinued or in short supply. And since I wasn’t prepared to take deliveries immediately, there was a risk that the wine would be allocated to someone else before the final order was placed.
I certainly understand the challenges that restaurant wine directors have when it comes to planning for a new restaurant. In fact, the Texas Wine Garden may be the largest Texas wine list in Dallas during the run of the fair. However, the list isn’t found at a traditional restaurant.
The final wine list includes 22 wines from 15 wineries. There are five white wines, five rosés, seven red wines, and five sparkling wines. Six of the wines are small production wines (production under 250 cases) that would be difficult to find without visiting the wineries or ordering online. Grapes were grown in vineyards across the state and several wines have a single vineyard designation. Roughly half of the wines are blends of multiple grape varieties and half are single-varietal wines. I hope that everyone finds a Texas wine to love at the State Fair of Texas!
Dallas-area Texas wine lovers, join me for a meet-up at the State Fair of Texas on Sunday, October 2 from 4-6 p.m. in the Texas Wine Garden!
Make plans to attend the State Fair from September 30 – October 23, 2022. Stop by the Texas Wine Garden and let me know what you think of my choices. And while you’re at the fair, be sure to visit the GO TEXAN Wine, Beer, and Spirits Pop-Up Porch in the GO TEXAN Pavilion. Each day a Texas winery, brewery, or spirits producer will be on hand to offer samples. Rancho Loma Vineyards, Red Caboose Winery, and Pedernales Cellars are on the schedule for 2022.
The fair will publish a number of new Texas wine articles that have been inspired by the wine list. Read them all here. https://bigtex.com/author/swilfong/
PHOTO CREDITS: Kevin Brown/State Fair of Texas
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