Introducing Texas Vines and Wines
After deciding to develop Texas wine as a topic for WineEnabler.com, I waited for inspiration for the first post. I did not want to sound like a chamber of commerce brochure spouting statistics and talking about travel opportunities. And I certainly did not want to start with my short career as a vineyard worker. So, I was counting on the Texas Hill Country Wine and Food Festival for inspiration, but my attendance this year was prevented by a “small” surgical procedure, leaving me without inspiration.
With my anxiety growing over the missing Texas post, my wife and I were preparing rabbit for dinner. As an appetizer, we had sautéed rabbit liver with a sauce of figs and cognac. My wife went to the cellar and returned with a bottle of late harvest Riesling. She refused to say where it was from and insisted I try it “blind” with our appetizer.
The wine showed some apple, peach, kerosene, and a little honey in the nose. In the mouth, the wine was a little short of the acid needed for all the residual sugar, but it worked well enough. I made a few half-hearted attempts at naming the wine and then my wife revealed it was a bottle of 2002 Late Harvest Riesling from Bell Mountain Vineyards in Texas.
She found the bottle in the cellar among the wines that I did not intend to open – you know, bottles of wine left over from parties, bad presents and such. Her selection was part joke and part challenge. She likes to stump me with her wine selections, and she believes Texas wine deserves more attention. Now don’t get me wrong, J J Plum or Dr. Loosen do not have to worry about competition from the Texas Hill County any time soon, but their Rieslings do not have a lot of competition from anyone. More to the point, as good as their wines are, I cannot afford to drink them as an everyday wine and this was an everyday occasion. So I had another glass and contemplated the implications.
Traditionally, wine developed as a part of everyday life. The climate, culture, and food influenced the style of wine, which in turn influenced the food and culture. Varietal selection, vineyard locations, horticulture practices, and wine making techniques evolved in a particular environment toward a culturally defined balance.
What does this have to do with Texas wine? Well, if I think encouraging local wine production is important (and I do), there are four things that I can do: I can grow grapes, I can make wine, I can drink wine, or I can take part in some combination of all three. So I think I will do what I do best: taste and drink Texas wine and then tell people about it.
There are slightly more than 150 wineries in Texas, certainly a manageable number. I will start by attending the Austin Wine Festival, which is on May 24-26. This is a consumer friendly celebration of Texas wine supported by the Texas Department of Agriculture. After that I will hit the road, there are about 50 wineries located within 100 miles or less of my home. Wineries are best visited with friends and picnic lunches, so I will try to get some of my travel companions to share their thoughts as well.
I am just starting on my exploration of Texas vines and wines so if you have any advice, information about events, opinions, or relevant stuff to share, please leave a comment or better yet come join us. See you in the tasting room.
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