For more than a decade now, every single state has had at least one commercial winery. Of course, the vast majority are clustered into the obvious states we’ve all known about and have been drinking from for many, many years. I’m always curious to see what producers in different states are up to. Are they working with lesser-known varieties that thrive locally, are they trying to make it work with well-known international varieties like cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay, or are they doing something else?
So when I was invited to visit Texas wine country I was intrigued. Not a single bit of Texas juice had passed my lips before I hopped on the plane to spend some time down there visiting producers and see what they’re up to. It turns out what they’re up to in Texas is a whole lot of different things. Most important to note is that there are some well-made and delicious wines coming out of Texas. In the grand scheme of things, it’s early and they’re still figuring out what works best in certain areas. But they have found some things that are clearly firing on all cylinders.
Some of the grape varieties that thrive in Texas soil are of Italian origin, like vermentino, sangiovese and aglianico. Tempranillo and viognier are other varietals of which I tasted well-made examples. What most impressed me while I visited Texas wine country was the sense of camaraderie from producer to producer, the desire to push the envelope of quality and discovery, and the drive to innovate and move the Texas wine industry as a whole forward. So when that local wine shop you love starts carrying some Texas wines, try a bottle and discover why the growers, vintners and locals in Texas are so excited about what Texas wine country is up to. And if your travels take you to the Austin and San Antonio area, there are many exciting and extremely hospitable producers to visit.
Here’s a look at some of the most notable wines I tasted in Texas.
The travel, food, and wine that are the subject of this review were provided at no cost to the contributor.
Duchman Family Winery Vermentino 2017 ($20). Apricot and lychee fruit aromas provide a nice welcome. The palate is stuffed with white peach, papaya, and an overall bevy of tropical fruit flavors. Bits of spice emerge on the solid finish. This refreshing wine has terrific acid and will pair well with light foods, but also works well all by itself.
Duchman Family Winery Sangiovese 2016 ($25). From the moment you pour this wine in a glass you realize you’re in for a very different style of sangiovese. It’s really light in hue, and looks almost like a dark rosé. Sour red fruit and bits of spice emerge on the nose. It is light-bodied and tasty, with cranberry and hints of strawberry. Firm acid keeps it refreshing.
Duchman Family Winery Aglianico 2014 ($30). Black cherry and raspberry explode from the nose. The palate is rich with dark fruit and the mouthfeel is velvety and somewhat dense. Earth, black pepper, and bits of leather are all evident on the finish. Pair this with some brisket for truly delicious results.
Spicewood Vineyards Louisa Vermentino 2016 ($20). Aromas of fleshy yellow fruit waft from the glass with conviction. Hints of tangerine and sour yellow fruit drive the palate along with a tiny dollop of vanilla. The finish is lush and pleasing. Racy acid keeps things mouthwatering.
Spicewood Vineyards Tempranillo 2016 ($24). Spicewood makes two tempranillo wines, one from fruit grown on their estate and one from fruit sourced in the High Plains region; both were solid, but the latter was a notch better. Rose petals and leather provide inviting and classic aromatics. Pomegranate, cranberry, and bits of blueberry drive the palate. Chicory and bits of earth are evident on the long finish. This medium-bodied wine would be the perfect partner to chorizo tacos.
Pedernales Cellars Vermentino 2015 ($30). Lots of yellow fruit aromas and bits of spice lead things off. Yellow melon and stone fruit flavors are evident. Bits of sour yellow fruit emerge on the engaging finish. This vermentino would be a great accompaniment to an entrée salad or other lighter foods.
Pedernales Cellars Viognier 2016 ($30). Vibrant tropical fruit aromas lead the charge, but do not stray over the top. Fleshy yellow fruit and hints of mango drive the full flavored palate. The finish is long and memorable. Solid acid keeps things in check. Not every state has a notable wine industry like Texas, but there are some in particular that don’t get as much recognition as they should for their winemaking. Arizona, Idaho, and Illinois are just a few of the states that we bet you didn’t know made wine.