Texas gets only a little vino love on a new list of the country’s 101 best wineries. Despite the presence of more than 270 wineries in the Lone Star State, only two Texas wineries appear on the list, created by The Daily Meal. McPherson Cellars Winery in Lubbock shows up at No. 87 and Becker Vineyards in Stonewall at No. 93. Not surprisingly, California wineries dominate the list.
“There are certainly more than two deserving wineries in Texas, but the competition is so strong and varied from California and the Pacific Northwest that it's difficult to find room in a highly limited listing — a mere 101 out of an estimated 7,000-plus wineries in the U.S. — for any significant representation from Texas or other states producing good wines,” said Colman Andrews, editorial director of The Daily Meal.
Andrews said few of the panelists who picked the wineries on the list have sampled Texas’ wine offerings. He said that’s because the state produces a relatively small amount of wine — more than 3 million gallons in 2012 — and because distribution of Texas wines is “extremely limited” outside the state.
“I’ve spent a great deal of time in Texas and have been lucky enough to have been able to enjoy many, many Texas vintages, and I have no doubt that in years to come, more and more of them will find there way onto lists like this — but California and the Pacific Northwest will always remain in the majority, as far as I can predict,” Andrews said.
Although California and the Pacific Northwest rule the winery scene in the U.S., Texas does rank as the No. 5 grape and wine producer among the 50 states, according to the Texas Wine & Grape Growers Association.
According to Time Warner Cable News in Austin, wineries in Texas didn’t really start to take off until the 1990s.
“At that time, there were 25 wineries in the state,” Nichole Bendele, tasting room coordinator at Becker Vineyards, told the cable news channel. “Now, there’s almost 300.”
Becker Vineyards produced more than 1.2 million bottles of wine in 2013, making it the third largest producer in the state, according to Time Warner Cable News. Becker Vineyards opened its winery in 1996 along what’s now billed as Wine Road 290 in the Fredericksburg area.
While The Daily Meal doesn’t put Texas in the same wine category as California, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples puts a lot of stock in the state’s grapes. “The Texas wine industry has come of age,” Staples said in a statement in 2011.
Pat Brennan, owner of Brennan Vineyards in Comanche, Texas, and one of the leaders of a wine promotion group called Texas Fine Wine, said he’s disappointed by The Deal Meal’s list but isn’t surprised. He noted that most Texas wines are consumed in Texas, “so wine enthusiasts don’t get the opportunity to taste our wines unless they visit.” In fact, Brennan pointed out that not one of the wine experts, sommeliers and writers who judged the wineries for The Daily Meal is a Texan.
“The good news is our wines are getting more and more national attention, given the number of Texas wines winning awards at prestigious wine competitions,” Brennan said. “The more people taste our wines, we are confident that our wines will keep winning awards, be proudly served at restaurants, and be top of mind among wine experts.”