Texas has a long wine production tradition. In addition to other regions in Europe, such as Spain, France and Italy, the sunny and dry climate of the major winemaking regions in the state has drawn parallels with Portuguese wines. Some of the earliest Texas wines documented were produced near El Paso by Spanish missionaries in the 1650s. Until 2019, Texas ranked as the fifth largest wine producing province.
The state is home to more than 42 members of the Vitis grape vine family, 15 of whom are native to the state, more than any other area on earth. As of 2017, the state had more than 4,550 acres (1,840 hectares) of vines planted with Vitis vinifera. Despite being the largest of the conterminous states, this comparatively small amount of planted land is dwarfed by the production of even the smallest French AOCs such as Sancerre. The Texan wine industry is continuing its steady pace of expansion and has developed a reputation as an established wine-growing region in the United States.
Texas is one of the oldest wine-growing states in the United States with vines grown here more than a hundred years before they were planted in California or Virginia. In the 1650s, Franciscan priests planted Mission vines in West Texas, near modern-day El Paso. In the production of sacramental wine used in the Eucharist, the vines were a necessity.The horticulturist Thomas Munson used Texas vines to produce hundreds of hybrid grapes and performed considerable research to find root stock resistant to the epidemic of Phylloxera, which saved the complete ruin of the French wine industry. The introduction of Prohibition in the United States effectively destroyed the wine industry in Texas, which did not undergo a renaissance until the 1970s, starting with the establishment of the wineries Llano Estacado and Pheasant Ridge in the Texas High Plains appellation near Lubbock and Springtown's La Buena Vida winery. The Texas wine industry still experiences the consequences of Prohibition today, with a fifth of Texas' 254 counties still having dry books rules.
There are more than 400 wineries in Texas, making it the fifth largest wine-producing state in the country. That puts Texas behind California, New York, Washington, and Oregon. Mesa Vineyards is the largest wine producer in the state with 200 hectares (500 acres) planted near Fort Stockton in West Texas. Established as an experimental winery with the University of Texas System in 1987, the winery produces wine under several labels with the primary brand of Ste. Genevieve. Llano Estacado Winery is the second largest winery. Most wineries offer tastings. Besides the regular wine tastings where wines are tasted, several wineries offer special tasting experiences, including food and wine pairings, and more. Wine Enthusiast Magazine called Texas Hill Country one of the 10 best wine travel destinations in 2014.
San Antonio is blessed with some little-known but amazing wineries you shouldn’t miss:
- The Stray Grape Urban Winery
- Lara Vineyard
- Whisper Path Cellars Winery
- Dry Comal Creek Winery & Vineyards
- Medina River Winery
- La Cruz de Comal Wines, Ltd.
- Saint Tryphon Farm & Vineyards
- 1908 House of Wine & Ale
These “hidden” wineries are located just down the street from our location at Marbach Road in the Rainbow Hills district of San Antonio. Stop by for a visit anytime!