The first vineyards in North America appeared in Texas in around 1660. There is a rich culture of grape growing and wineries to be experienced, but not all grapes perform well in the climate. Here is a list of some of the ones that are more sustainable in the region.
One of the most famous red wine grapes in the world, Cabernet Sauvignon takes a place among the grapes of Texas. Recent discovery has proven this grape as the offspring of both Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. This grape grows well in most of the state and has a particular ability to thrive at or above 3000 feet in elevation.
Blanc du Bois
Created in 1968 by John A. Mortensen, Blanc du Bois is a hybrid species of hardy grape that has demonstrated resistance to a variety of disease including Pierce’s Disease. It is well known among American growers for its ability to make great table wines without being blended.
Known to many as an “insurance grape” because of its hardiness, Cabernet Franc is at its best in the southern plains of Texas or in the extreme north. The wine produced has flavors sometimes reminiscent of green bell peppers, but varies by region. Other characteristics include a thin skin and lower overall acidity.
This grape was specifically designed to survive in hot weather. As such it is well suited to the climate and conditions in Texas. It does well when blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and has improved the quality of table wines in any region where it grows due to its natural acidity and affinity for blending.
Chenin Blanc is an old grape variety that can trace back to the year 900 and earlier in France. It is known to make dry white wines and is good for blending. The grape grows well across Texas, but difficulties can arise due to the tightly formed clusters of grapes. These packed groups make the grape somewhat susceptible to disease and rot.
Aromatic almost to a fault, Gewurztraminer grapes offer a fruity and slightly spicy wine. This grape has both ardent supporters and harsh critics with few who stand in the middle. This variety can be grown on the South Plains of Texas for those bold enough to try.
Also known as Lenoir, this grape is grown more in Texas than anywhere in the world. A mainstay of the Texas port scene, this variety can be made into either a sweet fortified wine or weighty red. Lenoir is also a good candidate to be made into jelly or jam. It is resistant to certain pests and Pierce’s disease.
Another well known grape, Merlot ripens fairly early in the harvesting season and is characteristically dark blue. This variety does well in the western half of Texas and particularly well at elevations over 3000 feet.
An Italian grape that almost embodies the region of Tuscany, Sangiovese seems to be well adapted to life in the hot climate of Texas. The wine from this grape contains notes of both fresh fruits and oak or tea leaves.
A grape that is most common in Spain and Portugal has made an appearance in Texas. Though still a newcomer to the scene, there is a lot of promise in this grape’s ability to flourish in the region.
The best feature of this grape is its resilience to drought. Unfortunately, it is also prone to disease. This leaves growers with unreliable yields and the additional difficulties that surround more care and attention to the crop.