OUR GREAT MINDS

    by Greg Steiner

    Texas Wines of Our Times

    The wine industry in Texas is flourishing with numerous new wineries opening in various parts of the state.  Texas is one of the top-producing wine markets in the country.

    Right now, Texas wines are dominated by two well-known grape varietals: Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.  These two grapes are the most planted grapes in the state.  Why do they dominate the vineyards in Texas?  Because people know what they are, and they sell.  When it comes down to it, wineries need to make money to exist, so to plant anything else would be a risky business proposition.  But this might not be the best thing for Texas wines because these two varietals typically fare better in cooler climates.

    Texas’ geography and climate has been compared to places like Portugal and Spain. Vineyards in those countries use grapes such as Turiga Nacional, Garnacha (Grenache), Tinta Francisca, and Tempranillo.  Each one of these grapes loves the heat.  Texas is hot.  So why not plant heat-loving grapes?  Wouldn’t they prosper better than grapes that thrive in climes that are a bit cooler?  One would think.  The problem still comes down to what sells.  Turiga Nacional and Tempranillo don’t drive the attention in Texas (or America) that Cabernet and Chardonnay do.

    Nevertheless, just planting what sells isn’t the way to go.  Texans will support their home state—they’re a tremendously proud people.  They really would support and purchase great wines from Texas—even if the wines aren’t well known.  They would because hot weather grapes, from a hot weather location, will produce better wines and bring greater attention and greater success to Texas.

    There are a few wineries/winemakers that work with the hot weather grape of Tempranillo.  Tempranillo is the dominant red grape of Spain and is the primary grape in Rioja.  Three producers are: Kim McPherson of McPherson Cellars, Fall Creek Vineyards, and the up-and-coming Duchman Family Winery.  These wineries produce wines that Texans should be drinking simply because they just taste good.  They are made with grapes that love the heat; these are the right wines for Texas.

    Be on the lookout for wines made from these grapes at your favorite Texas restaurant or in your local Texas wine shop.  Support the burgeoning Texas wine industry and support the lesser-known grape varietals which are perfectly suited to the hot Texas climate—you won’t be disappointed.

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