Beaches Be Trippin\': Five Texas Coast Spots Worth the Drive

Beaches Be Trippin': Five Texas Coast Spots Worth the Drive

Arts & Culture: Let’s face it, most of us Lone Stars view the Texas coast as a poor man’s Waikiki. Hell, maybe just a poor man’s Panama Beach — only to be used... By Callie Enlow 7/10/2013
Best Happy Hour

Best Happy Hour

Best of SA 2013: 4/24/2013
San Antonio’s Transgender Community Shows its Pride

San Antonio’s Transgender Community Shows its Pride

The Pride Issue: Despite the common belief that it was transgender activist Sylvia Rivera who sparked the beginning of the modern gay rights movement by flinging her high... By Jade Esteban Estrada 7/2/2014
Cityscrapes: Local history pays the price for Briscoe deal

Cityscrapes: Local history pays the price for Briscoe deal

News: The annual City budget is a dense and often arcane thing, filled with “mandates,” “restricted funds,” and “special funds.” It isn’t the lightest reading... By Heywood Sanders 9/17/2014
Daniela Riojas’ Photographic Studies in Self-discovery

Daniela Riojas’ Photographic Studies in Self-discovery

Arts & Culture: Daniela Riojas explores ideas of the figure in art, Latin American rituals, letting go of the past, and Jungian archetypes in... By Tom Turner 9/17/2014

Search hundreds of restaurants in our database.

Search hundreds of clubs in our database.

Follow us on Instagram @sacurrent

Print Email

Food & Drink

Texas Wine Month: Go local with these unconventional vineyard picks

Photo: Courtesy photos, License: N/A

Courtesy photos

Photo: , License: N/A

The Pedernales Cellars crew starts harvesting a pinot blanc crop.

Texas wine tourism? Just in time for Texas Wine Month, there’s an app for that.

In the beginning, there was no app of any kind. Lacking sage advice from Siri, the early pioneers—Becker Vineyards, Fall Creek and Llano Estacado among them—initially hitched their fortunes to the so-called “noble” grapes: cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay and merlot. Many Texan producers continue to insist on cabs and chards, and there have been some surprising successes. But the current generation is looking less for nobility than it is for suitability, planting grapes such as tempranillo from Spain’s severe Rioja region and exploring the brooding tannat of Southwestern France.

“There wasn’t any wine consultant [who knew Texas] 10 years ago,” says Tim Drake, Flat Creek Estate’s winemaker. “But in time, we came to feel that this was more of an Italian environment than French and that off-the-radar grapes were best.” Little-known montepulciano, for example. But he also says that some grapes that should do well in Texas heat just don’t survive the other scourges—late spring freezes, hailstorms and sudden downpours that can cause mildew. “We also have every disease there is,” he says.

One of Flat Creek’s signatures is its Super Texan red blend, a wine Drake says “embodies the spirit of Texas without losing the character of its main component, sangiovese [best known to us for its role in Chianti].” Another award-winning wine is their pinot grigio, “a grape I would never recommend for Texas,” admits Drake. “It was the only white Italian varietal available at the time, and we just got lucky [in where we planted it].”

When pressed, most Hill Country winemakers admit to a certain amount of luck and running vines up the flagpole. David Kuhlken, winemaker and part-owner at Pedernales Cellars, says “the first grapes we planted (chardonnay, cabernet, merlot and sauvignon blanc) were [in hindsight] predictable experiences; merlot is the only one that lasted in meaningful amounts.” Now they’re cultivating almost exclusively Spanish and Rhône grapes, with tempranillo among the most important. (Kuhlken credits Alamosa Cellars with bottling the first commercially viable Texas tempranillo and Newsom Vineyards in the High Plains for pioneering its cultivation.)

The grapes for Pedernales’ Texas Viognier (its Reserve Viognier just won a double-gold medal at a prestigious French competition) all come from the southern edge of the High Plains near Lubbock. Many other Texas winemakers have had success with this increasingly familiar Rhône grape, now thoroughly at home on the range. Less familiar to us is Spain’s albariño. “It’s got potential, but it’s fussy to grow and [is] taking six to seven years to reach [a meaningful] yield level. We can’t draw too many conclusions yet,” admits Kuhlken.

Bob Young of Bending Branch Winery near Comfort has made up his mind about one unfamiliar varietal. “Tannat is our signature [red] grape; this may be its sweet spot on the planet,” he says. Young is also happy with picpoul blanc, a grape most associated with France’s Languedoc. “It retains its acidity more than most whites in Texas,” he says. Young and his son-in-law, John Riverburgh, have planted 20 acres at the winery, and they also source from the High Plains and even California. “But if we purchase a grape [elsewhere], we’re also growing it here—and we try to match terroirs,” says Young. The Texas wine industry may need a little help from its friends for a while—and this being Texas, nobody agrees on what grapes will end up on top—but you don’t need a smartphone to see that the future looks bright.

For information on the Texas wineapp, go to

Recently in Food & Drink
We welcome user discussion on our site, under the following guidelines:

To comment you must first create a profile and sign-in with a verified DISQUS account or social network ID. Sign up here.

Comments in violation of the rules will be denied, and repeat violators will be banned. Please help police the community by flagging offensive comments for our moderators to review. By posting a comment, you agree to our full terms and conditions. Click here to read terms and conditions.
comments powered by Disqus