Texas High Plains Tour

Tx High Plains Harvest Tour

Most wine producing regions have a cool body of water on their west coast (e.g. France, Chile, California, etc). This produces a cooling effect that depresses in night time temperatures. This cooling effect is critical to moderate daytime solar heating and allows the grapes to recover and prolongs ripening. It is one of the critical aspects of producing grapes that result in quality, refreshing wines.

If you remember your geography, Texas has New Mexico to the west that is not very wet. But, as you may know, west Texas also has elevation. Texas is like a tilted table top starting at sea level in Galveston on the Gulf of Mexico increasing to about 3500 feet in the Texas High Plains in the west around Lubbock. This elevation combined with the incessant wind produces night time cooling on the High Plains that goes well with its hot sunny days.

The Texas High Plains has a long history of agricultural production, but in the past thirty years it also has a growing reputation for producing high quality Texas wine grapes. The Texas High Plains AVA covers around 8 million acres of flat, dry, but intensively-cultivated land, where cotton, sorghum and wheat are the predominant crops. Growers depend on the subterranean Ogallala Aquifer, which spans almost the entire area underneath very well-drained soils.

Of high interest these days are the approximately 3500 acres of vineyards, with an expanding interest in viticulture and a growing number of prestigous wine awards to back the grape quality in this appellation.

Later this week, I will join a group from the media touring a number of Texas High Plains vineyards as the 2008 harvest progresses. Plans are to visit Newsom Vineyards, Reddy Vineyards, and Bingham Vineyards and to view night time harvesting. Additionally, we will visit some of Texas’ top wineries and winemakers in the area, including Llano Estacado, McPherson Cellars and CapRock Winery. Accompanying the trip will also be Bobby Cox (grape grower and consultant) and Dr. Ed Hellman (Professor of Viticulture and Extension Specialist and organizer of the the Texas WineGrape Network at: http://winegrapes.tamu.edu/).

I will be blogging from the Texas High Plains during this tour. We leave this Thursday afternoon and return Saturday evening (September 4-6, 2008).

Please send me your questions by responding to this blog posting or those that I will send while on the trip.

This is great opportunity to become more familiar with one of Texas’ premium grape-growing regions.

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  1. What is so special about Texas wines?

    I have a lot of choices when I go wine shopping and I keep asking myself why I should buy a Texas wine and not one from CA, WA, NZ etc.

  2. Texas is a new up and coming wine producing region. It is the 5th largest wine producing state and winning local, national and international competitions.

    They are about were Washington state was about 7-10 years ago with real potential for warm weather (Medieterrenean) varieties of grapes.

    There are some good examples are :
    Llano Estacado Rhone Blend
    Becker Prarrie Rote – Rhone blend
    More to come…..as I travel around on this trip. I will post my most notable tastings.

    The question of availability of Texas’ wines in other states is a little more problematic but the situation has improved since the reampinig of the state laws on shipping that allow for interstate shipment.

    Some wineries are starting distribution in states that have historic links to Texas – like Colorado. Some Texas wineries ship to states outside Texas. Check their websites for their position on shipping.

  3. Very informative post. Great response to the question of availability of Texas wines in other states. The Hill Country Wineries we have visited have websites that make it easy to order.

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