Texas Wine’s High Plains A-Team: Newsom, Reddy, Llano Estacado
As I disembarked from the plane in Lubbock, I recall thinking that the skies above the Texas high plains are bigger and bluer than just about anywhere I’ve been on this good Earth. The air had the familiar dry bite of the area’s fine red sands, and if I took a deep enough breath, I could also sense the underlying desiccant of the porous caliche limestone. After this brief reflection, I started my way to Brownfield, about an hour south of Lubbock. It’s in Terry County, the acknowledged wine grape growing capital of Texas.
At my destination, Reddy Vineyards, was the point of rendezvous for the wine writer meet-up with the rightfully named “Texas High Plains A-Team”. The A-Team consisted of winegrowers Vijay and Subada Reddy (Reddy Vineyards) and Neal and Janice Newsom (Newsom Vineyards), and winemakers Greg Bruni and Jason Centanni and CEO Mark Hyman (Llano Estacado Winery). The grape growing and wine making/selling experience packed into this assemblage spans the last 30 years with some of the best Texas wines on record being credited to their collective hard work and dedication.
Lunch was served with a selection of Llano Estacado Winery wines as we looked out from Vijay’s second story office into his vineyard. The vines were “all-Reddy” easing their way into their winter slumber period, contrasting themselves against the bright, red-orange vineyard soil. This soil (red sandy loam over pour caliche limestone, something that covers much of the Texas High Plains region) has already obtained notoriety for its low-vigor way of making grapevines focus on making fine, high quality wine grapes.
Presented were two of Llano Estacado Winery’s unoaked wines:
2014 Pinot Grigio (67% Reddy Vineyards and 33% Newsom Vineyards) and 2014 Cinsault Rosé (100% Reddy Vineyards), both with Texas High Plains appellation. The third wine was Llano Estacado THP Stampede (oaked red blend) made with 56% Petite Verdot, 29% Petit Sirah, and 13% Syrah (all Reddy Vineyards), and 2% Cabernet Sauvignon (Newsom Vineyards).
This presentation was very appropriate since the High Plains region was where the words “Texas wine” in its modern sense were likely first spoken. Texas wine, also in its modern sense, was first made and tasted in the basement lab in the Texas Tech Chemistry building in Lubbock. Much of the credit for these events has been given to Clinton “Doc” McPherson, the college chemistry professor that took the plunge into Texas wine research and later helped to start the first and longest running of Texas’s modern wineries, Llano Estacado Winery (federally bonded in 1977), the winery that now hosted our high plains visit.