Food & Wine in the Lone Star State

The Central Texas Wine, Food & Brew Fest will be held on Saturday, September 14 at the new community park in Harker Heights, Texas.

Here’s how organizers describe the event: “A promenade of beverages and culinary delights to be sampled by the visitors from Harker Heights, Killeen, Fort Hood, Temple, Austin, Copperas Cove, Waco, Georgetown and beyond, while listening to cool summer jazz being played from the shady hilltop overlooking the venue.”

Sounds to me like a pretty good way to spend a few hours, and it also serves as a reminder that the great state of Texas, known for so many things, also is “wine country.”

In fact, Texas is the site of the first vineyard established in North America by Franciscan priests. That vineyard was planted around 1662.

As European settlers followed the development of mission outposts, they brought more grapevine cuttings, further enlarging the industry through the 1800s.

Today, the largest of the lower 48 United States has approximately 4,400 acres of producing vineyard farmland. Here’s how it breaks down geographically:

  • Hill Country—The Hill Country region north of Fredericksburg to San Saba, and west to Menard, is home to beautiful limestone hills and pristine creeks with approximately 600 acres of vineyards. A large tourist trade has made the Hill Country a popular wine region with more than 70 wineries.
  • Southeast Texas/Gulf Coast—This region has a high population, providing excellent marketing potential for the more than 50 wineries located there. With close to 90 acres of winegrapes, most growers are concentrating on hybrid varieties such as Blanc du Bois and Black Spanish, although several growers are having success with vinifera grapes.
  • Texas Panhandle/High Plains—The Texas Panhandle/High Plains region has more than 1,100 acres of vineyard land. Located at 3,400 feet above sea level on flat terrain, the Texas High Plains experience long, hot, dry summers—but the cool evenings make it ideal for grape growing.
  • North Texas—The North Texas region has more than 75 wineries and approximately 370 acres of grapes. The area has a wide variety of soils, some of which are deep, well-drained sandy loam—excellent for grapes.
  • West Texas—The West Texas region has a dry climate, fertile soil and mild winters, making it beneficial for more than 1,200 acres of vineyards. West Texas is home to seven Texas wineries, including the state’s oldest bonded winery, Val Verde, in operation since 1883.

And speaking of the Lone Star State, there’s a restaurant in Houston where a wine lover could never grow tired of the wine selection—or the food, for that matter.

At Oxheart, the menu is changed almost daily. That’s a result of chef Justin Yu taking a micro-seasonal approach to his craft, sourcing ingredients both locally and seasonally.

And the same goes for Oxheart’s wine list, which features food-pairing partners that range from safe to daring, but always are spot-on.

No matter where one roams in the Lone Star State, there’s a potential wine adventure nearby.

Posted in Wine Region Profiles
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