From Pét-Nat To Cab Sauv, Eater’s New Wine Guide Explores What Texas Has To Offer For Newbies And Enthusiasts Alike

The guide encourages readers not to miss “out on the pure magic and deliciousness of Texas wines.”

By Kristen CabreraSeptember 29, 2021 3:11 pm,

Over the last decade, Texas wine has been holding its own against some of the country’s better-known wine destinations. Its growing reputation is evident in industry profits – that is, until the pandemic hit. Like many other businesses in the hospitality industry, Texas wineries were forced to make quick decisions about how to stay afloat.

Now, more than a year and a half into the pandemic, Texas wineries are ready to make up for lost time. And as Nadia Chaudhury wrote in an article for Eater Austin, “The future of Texas wine is bright and tart and rich and dry.”

Listen to the interview with Chaudhury above or read the transcript below to learn more about Eater Austin’s “Welcome to Texas Wine Country” guide that explores and explains the refined underdog that is Texas Wine.

This interview has been edited lightly for clarity.

Texas Standard: You and your team at Eater Austin put together a guide to the Texas Wine Country. Where did the idea come from?

Nadia Chaudhury: It’s something I’ve been wanting to cover for quite some time, actually for the past several years. It’s something I started. I did research, I’ve talked to people, but it never really, the way the package is right now, it never really jelled into this beautiful, multipiece thing until earlier this year, honestly, thanks to the team at Eater, my wonderful editors Brenna [Houck] and Jesse [Sparks], and my associate editor and my beautiful freelance writers and photographers and all of that, we created this beautiful, stunning package.

Can you tell us about the state of the wine industry in general, and how Texas fits into it?

When you hear wine, or especially wine in America, you immediately think, and for good reason, too, California, Washington, Oregon, even New York – Upstate New York – to a degree. But you never really hear Texas in that conversation. And I think that’s a shame because all these people are missing out on the pure magic and deliciousness of Texas wines.

With Texas being so large and having such a variety of climates and terrains, it makes sense to consider Texas as its own wine country, right?

There are these things called American Viticultural Areas, aka AVAs, where they’re like specific wine regions and different grapes can grow in different wine regions. Texas contains eight whole AVAs, and within those there’s multiple subsections. A majority of Texas’ grapes actually come from the High Plains and right in our own backyard – the Hill Country. And this leads to all sorts of fun grapes like [cabernet sauvignon] chardonnay, tempranillo and so much more.

The origin of Texas wine is pretty interesting. The border city of Del Rio has a fascinating part in this story.

Texas wines, actually, we think they stem from in El Paso when Franciscan priests planted vineyards and produced wine back in the 1600s. But in Del Rio, that’s where you have Val Verde Winery, which is the oldest running winery in the state right now. … Everything that’s been happening in Del Rio right now is a lot to take in. … There’s so much history and so much wonderfulness that can be found in Texas. You know, you don’t really think of Del Rio as being a wine destination, but maybe it should be.

How have the wineries managed during the pandemic? Have most survived?

As far as I can tell, most have survived. I haven’t, knock on wood, heard of any wineries that have shut down. At least wineries, [specifically] were impacted by tasting-room closures. And wineries had to answer the sort of question of like, how do you produce and sell wine safely when you couldn’t be around others, and wineries really stepped up. They protected their staffers, they masked, they let people work from home. They stepped up with to-go programs, ramping up online sales and really emphasizing their wine clubs and like, as everyone did, pivoting to virtual events. And I feel like a lot of these things are going to be a part of the fabric of how Texans and the world buys and experiences wine. And luckily, we have the benefit of decent weather all year round. And Texas wineries tend to feature a lot of alfresco space, which makes it easy for people looking to go out but don’t feel comfortable sitting inside yet.

We should point out, many of these are small operations, right?

Yes, smaller operations or family-run operations.

You’ve been invited to a party and you want to expose some wine snobs – pardon the expression – to some good Texas wine. What are you going to bring?

We have a beautiful profile on Fall Creek Vineyards – the people who actually established the Hill Country AVA. Their bottles are beautiful and wonderful. And it’s a token to really believing in what Texas soil can do in terms of wine. I would also personally recommend William Chris Vineyards. They’re another proponent of the Texas wine industry, and have been pushing for special labeling to promote wines that are made with 100% Texas grapes because they really, really believe in, everyone really believes in, what Texas grapes can do. Another personal favorite of mine is Southold Farm and Cellar. They’re a newer winery, so to speak, in the Hill Country area, but their bottles are amazing. And another, perhaps lesser-known but not lesser-quality winery, I would also recommend is Crowson Wines because their bottles are just magic.

Here’s another scenario: It’s the end of a long, hard day, and you just want to sit back and put on some Netflix and relax. What Texas wine are you going to grab from the shelf?

I tend to prefer whites over reds. I tend to prefer bubbles and sparkly wines, for lack of a better description. I am a sucker for pétillants naturels. … It’s sort of like very fresh, very newer sparkling wines. William Chris’ is really good. I’ve had several vintages of it and I have one right in the fridge right now. I also have a bottle of Southold Farm and Cellar’s mataro pét-nat that I haven’t tried yet but [that] I’m very excited about. And another go-to favorite of mine is Dandy Rosé from Wine for the People.

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