by Fred McMillin
for March 2, 1998

Texas Independence Day

 

Prologue

On March 2, 1836, Texas declared its independence from Mexico. Sam Houston became commander in chief of the famous Texas Rangers, and then president of the new Republic of Texas.


The Rest of the Story

So what has Texas to do with grapes and wine? Plenty. There are 26 species of grapes in the world and OVER HALF OF THEM grow in Texas. No other region on the globe can make that claim.

Furthermore, its wine potential was recognized as early as 1744, when a Spanish missionary wrote the El Paso vineyards "yield abundantly and produce fruit of good flavor...in no way inferior to that of our Spain." However, the technology had not arrived. A century later a U.S. Patent Office observer noted that El Paso grapes along with stems and some leaves were fermented in an ox hide pouch. After two to three weeks the bottom of the pouch was slit and the wine that dripped out had "a flat, sourish taste."

Fast forward another century and the ox hide era had ended. The noted Leon Adams wrote that Texas table wines were "vastly improved...A winegrowing revolution has exploded in Texas since 1974...the most prize-winning wines in the 1980's were produced in the High Plains around Lubbock, although hailstorms are a problem. Hailstones as large as baseballs have been known to level whole vineyard patches (and kill horses and cows)."

The High Plains first attracted national attention in June, 1986. Its Llano Estacado Winery's Chardonnay won a rare Double Gold at the San Francisco Fair and Wine Competition. By 1995, they had won an additional 300 awards. So, my toast to Texas Independence today will be made with a Llano Estacado Chardonnay. You can reach the winery at (806) 745-2258.


Postscript:
For much more about Llano, see the July 11,1997 WineDay article titled, "The Vines of Texas Are Upon You."

 


About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College and is Northern California Editor for American Wine on the Web. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


 


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