Whether you are new to Texas wines or have been a long-time enthusiast, there’s much to know about what’s happening in our great state. Let me share a little history and recommend ways you can easily discover Texas wines for yourself.
There is evidence that Spanish missionaries planted the first vineyards in North America in 1682 along the Rio Grande near present-day El Paso in Texas. Two centuries later, Italian immigrant Frank Qualia established the Val Verde Winery near Del Rio. Created in 1883, the winery still exists today.
In the late 1880s, a pest called phylloxera was decimating vineyards in France and throughout Europe. A horticulturist from Denison, Thomas Volney (T.V.) Munson, discovered a grapevine rootstock resistant to the devastating louse. With his research and guidance, the roots of vines native to Texas were sent to Europe. Thousands of these roots were grafted to the stalks of European grapevines and replanted where infected vine roots had died out. Munson essentially saved the wine industry in Europe, and some say every Bordeaux, Champagne, and Burgundy wine enjoyed today gets its roots from Texas.
The wine industry in Texas, and the rest of America, was virtually eliminated during Prohibition. Then in 1966, Clinton “Doc” McPherson started an experimental vineyard in the Texas High Plains near Lubbock. He planted 140 different grape varieties to learn which grapes worked best in the local climate and soil.
A winemaking resurgence started to build momentum in the 1970s. And today, Texas boasts over 500 individual winery locations and 9,300 acres of vineyards. The Texas Hill Country region of the winemaking world encompasses 9.6 million acres, which is 14,000 square miles. It is the largest appellation, or defined wine region, in Texas and the third largest in the country. To boast a bit more, the Hill Country is second only to Napa Valley for wine tourism in America. And the wine industry had an economic impact of $20.35 billion in 2022.
If all of this has you craving a good glass of wine, there are plenty of ways to discover Texas for yourself. Whether you enjoy surfing the web, watching a movie, searching on your phone, reading a book, or listening to a podcast, there are a variety of options for learning more about the wines of Texas.
Let’s start with websites because searching the internet is a common way to gather information these days.
Of course, you already know about TXWineLover.com! But, have you noticed what’s new since the website redesign that was launched in December? Yes, this is where I give a shameless plug…
Texas Wine Lover was started by Jeff Cope in 2011 as a blog to keep track of the Texas wineries he and his life partner Gloria had visited around the state. The blog grew into a website listing every winery and vineyard in the state. Today, the site helps you learn about a winery, find it on a map, create an itinerary to plan a visit, discover reviews of wineries and specific bottles, read about long-time and up-and-coming winemakers, and educate yourself about all things Texas wine.
Jeff worked for almost two years to create a mobile app for Texas Wine Lover (TWL), and when it was finally ready in December, he realized he needed a helping hand. And that’s where I come in. If you haven’t met me yet, let me introduce myself. I’m Amie Hellmann Nemec, and I’m the kind of gal who loves to learn. I am a pilot by training, but in 1999, when Benjy and I got engaged, I decided I didn’t want to be gone that much, and I shifted gears to work with him and manage his boutique dental practice in Austin. We started studying wine around 2005 when we had a memorable pairing dinner at a French restaurant in Florida. I took my first Sommelier exam in 2011 and started a side hustle offering wine tasting classes to friends. At one point, we actually purchased land near Johnson City for the purpose of planting a vineyard in the future. That property was ultimately sold and is now the location of the new Lost Draw Cellars tasting room and vineyard. In 2017, my husband retired and we moved to Fredericksburg to open a tasting room. Perspective Cellars launched at the end of ’18 and I loved comparing a wine from Texas to the same wine from another New World region and from the Old World region where the grape originated. During the COVID shutdowns, I realized my next natural step was to learn production. So, I sold Perspective and it’s now a great spot for international wines and live piano music on the weekends.
That pretty much brings us up to date. I’ve worked in the cellar at Hilmy Cellars and Adega Vinho in the Hill Country, and spent one harvest with Gary Farrell Wines in Sonoma. I started out with Texas Wine Lover as a writer, but with the upgrades that Jeff created, I joined him as an owning partner in January. In this role, I’m supporting Jeff by continuing to write blog posts and to create more avenues for further growth of the website and app. All the while, I’m working to complete the book I’ve been working on for the past year, Wine Lover to Wine Maker, which I hope to have published this summer.
So, I’m here to listen to your ideas as to how TWL can best benefit you, whether you are a wine loving consumer, a winery owner, a winemaker, or working in the industry in another capacity. We want TWL to be all things Texas wine! So let me know if I can help you.
Now, back to the changes in TXWineLover.com… While the site has a fresh new look, what’s really important is the new Guide feature. This allows you to Plan Your Trip to visit wineries. Here you can search by Wineries, Wine type, Trips recommended by our writers, Services such as drivers and tour companies, where to Eat, Drink, Stay, and Shop in the area. And find special Events planned at wineries and local businesses. Once you choose a category you want to search, there’s another filter on the right side of the screen that breaks it down even further. You can filter from Wineries to choose the day of the week, walk-ins welcome, kid-friendly, tours given, and more. Or choose Wines and select the style of wine or the exact grape varietal you are looking for.
All of these search options allow you to create a customized plan for your winery visits. This Guide feeds the brand new Texas Wine Lover mobile app which is available for free on Apple or Android, so be sure to download to your phone today.
Even with the changes and the new app, we still have all the features you’ve grown to love, including the blog, winemaker profiles, and the interactive map.
Now that my shameless plug has come to a close, look for a new post each week to showcase a new way to discover more Texas wines!