Friday, June 10, 2005

Texas Hill Country Wines

Texas wine gets a lot of shit these days for not being able to match quality to price. I, myself, have doled out such criticsm: why pay Alamosa vineyards $18 for a decent sangio when I can buy a much more satisfying Italian for half that?
The answer is: because I'm a Texan, dammit. Because l want Texas wines to thrive someday.
Here's the naked truth: I'm not going to send someone to the Texas section of my store for a great wine at a reasonable price. I hope that someday I can, but we're a long way from that now. Texas wines have been long stuck in a cycle that held them back from even approaching competitive quality. In the earliest days of Texas winemaking, we saw a lot of Merlots and Cabs and Blush wines, all seemingly intended to try to squeeze their way into the mainstream market. That has led to lots of crappy jug plonk, made mostly from outsourced fruit. What I'm hoping for is to see more of what I'm beginning to see: small wineries growing fruit that actually does well in hot weather, with the hopes that someday, quantity enough can be grown to bring prices to a reasonable level. Texas Cab will never rival any of the Big Boys, but winemakers can make Cab blends that could gain prestige with time. Our vintners can already wipe the freaking cellar floor with Muscat makers from other states. Sangiovese could also be one of our future specialties. This is what I want to see happen in the next ten years: wine made exclusively with all Texas fruit, vinted for it's own expression and personality, with varietals that do well in this climate, all at a price that doesn't make me snicker.

Fortunately, a lot of people ask for Texas wine. They're either like me and want to support the local vintners, or they're curious out-of-towners who want to send a souvenir back home. I'm always honest with customers about what they can expect, and I keep up with the wines so I can suggest the best out of the bunch to represent the industry.

To that end, the hub and I invited our friend Amelia to do the Hill Country Rounds: taste some wine, eat some fresh peaches and beef jerky, and enjoy being Texans for a day.
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