Making Truly Fine Wine in Texas
What is Fine Wine?
In a recent article, New York Times wine writer Eric Asimov describes the definition of “fine wine,” which he prefers to refer to as “great wine.” As he puts it, “Greatness has classically been associated with wines that showed complexity and nuance, that were able to age and evolve over many years, that touched the emotions, inspired contemplation, and provoked discussion.” That sounds like the kind of wine that I want to drink.
What is Texas Fine Wine?
Some of the major wine-producing regions of the world have a long head-start on producing wine over Texas. The French, Germans, Italians, and Spaniards have had centuries of experience to achieve greatness in winemaking. The post-prohibition wine industry in Texas got started less than 50 years ago.
It is perfectly understandable that people would have doubts that such a young wine region would be able to produce fine wine. To dispel those misgivings, the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) funded marketing for the wine industry in the 2000s featuring programs such as the “Texas Two Sip” where Texas wines were tasted blind along with fine wines from around the world, such as a Texas Sangiovese vs. an Italian Chianti Classico of the same vintage.
One such Texas Two Sip tasting was held in 2009 at the TEXSOM Conference, a premier educational event for sommeliers and wine professionals. This is a tough audience of wine experts. Most had never tasted Texas wine. It was very eye-opening for attendees because, during the blind tasting, many could not always distinguish the Texas wine from its international counterpart.
Unfortunately, the Texas Legislature cut TDA funding for the wine industry in 2011, and with that, all the marketing for our industry came to a halt.
Not deterred by this setback, wine PR professional Denise Clarke organized several wineries to host a hospitality suite to showcase Texas wines at TEXSOM in 2012. We jumped at the opportunity to pour our wines alongside McPherson Cellars, Brennan Vineyards, and Duchman Family Winery to ensure that wine professionals from around the world had an opportunity to taste fine wines from Texas while they were visiting our home state. The suite was hugely popular, and again, wine professionals were excited to try Texas wines!
The tasting at TEXSOM in 2012 was eye-opening because we could immediately see the support that we had from the Somm community. They know how great Texas wine can be and want to see it shine.
After that successful TEXSOM event, we decided that Pedernales Cellars would take the lead in creating a group of like-minded wineries to continue marketing our great wines. We knew we were making fine wine, but there was a lot of work to be done to get people to know it. Without the support of the state to provide marketing funds for a broader Texas wine marketing program, such as those in wine regions in New York, Washington, and Oregon, we needed to self-fund a program. Fortunately, a core group of wineries, all of whom have stellar reputations for their wines, guest service, wine clubs, and special events, were eager to participate.
In 2014 Texas Fine Wine was born.
The original members included Pedernales Cellars, Duchman Family, Brennan Vineyards, and Bending Branch Winery. Spicewood Vineyards joined in 2016. In 2021 Brennan Vineyards left the group to accommodate Pat and Trellise Brennan's retirement plans. Sadly, Pat Brennan died this Fall, and the Texas Fine Wine wineries honored him with a donation to TWGGA.
Today Texas Fine Wine is still a privately funded marketing initiative representing four of Texas’ most distinguished wineries: Bending Branch Winery, Duchman Family Winery, Pedernales Cellars, and Spicewood Vineyards. Our goal is to show the world that our wineries are producing benchmark wines from Texas grapes. Or to put it in Mr. Asimov’s terms, we are creating wines of greatness with complexity, that evolve with age, are touched by our passion, inspire contemplation, and show a definitive sense of place. I am confident that I am always pouring great wines when I serve wines from these wineries, and this is true vintage after vintage.
Great wine is made by great people. The folks involved with Texas Fine Wine are some of my favorite peeps in the Texas wine business. They are dedicated, smart, and funny.
We know we are achieving that goal not only by winning accolades at the most prestigious national and international wine competitions but also by winning the praise of discerning wine consumers like you.
Get Your Texas Fine Wine
Texas Fine Wine is offering a special four-bottle 2021 Holiday Pack of wines that will pair great with your holiday table and is a terrific gift. The pack includes these exceptional wines:
- Pedernales Cellars 2018 Tempranillo Reserve — Blend of Tempranillo, Touriga Nacional and Graciano with notes of black currant, black cherry, and vanilla
- Duchman Family Winery 2020 Roussanne, Oswald Vineyard — 100% Roussanne with notes of ripe pear, lime, stone fruit, and minerality
- Spicewood Vineyards 2018 The Independence — A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with notes of black plum, black cherries, and dark chocolate
- Bending Branch Winery 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon, Newsom Vineyards — 100% Cabernet Sauvignon with notes of black cherry cola, baking spices, clove, and vanilla
Orders placed by December 8 will arrive in time for Christmas.