March 1, 2024

Celebrate Texas Independence Day with Texas Wines

Celebrate Texas Independence Day with Texas Wines
On March 2, 1836, Texas declared its Independence from the Dictator Santa Anna to establish itself as a free Nation. Texas was the seventh revolt against the elected President-turn-Dictator with the first six revolts being wiped out completely. Texas has a long, proud history of being unique and the BEST. Texas was the FIRST area to have a working winery. Around 1662, Spanish Missionaries established the first sustainable vineyards and winery in El Paso. These Catholic Priests needed red wine to celebrate Holy Communion. Bringing wine from the “Old World” to North America and keeping it from turning rancid on the bouncing warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean was almost impossible. The Friars found the high altitude of El Paso with its dry climate and cool nights perfect for growing those Spanish Mission grapes to make their precious red wine. This El Paso Mission was the FIRST North American vineyard and winery to consistently make Sacramental Red Wine in North America. This was 100 years before California had its first winery, also by Spanish Mission priests. Texas wineries flourished before Prohibition, including the Val Verde Winery establish by Italian immigrants near Del Rio, Texas in 1883. Frank and Louis Qualia established the Val Verde Winery and kept it in operation during Prohibition from 1920 to 1933 by vinifying and selling Sacramental Wines. The fourth generation has kept the Val Verde Winery in operation today.
When Prohibition ended in 1933, California immediately re-started numerous wineries. Texas was focused on other agricultural products until Dr. Clint McPherson from Texas Tech University established Llano Estacado Winery in Lubbock in 1976. “Doc” told me when he applied for his winery permit from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission that there had been three generations of TABC personnel who had never permitted a winery in Texas. Being a College Profession, he taught them the procedures. “Doc” showed me the original ten-inch thick cinder block walls of his original winery building and told me they were necessary to protect his fermentation tanks since the winery was in the “Hub of the Bible Belt!” Coincidentally, 1976 was also our Nation’s Bi-Centennial Celebration and the “Judgment of Paris” where California Wines were judged by the French to be as good or better than their wines. By 1980 Paul and Merrill Bonarrigo had established Messina Hof Winery and Ed and Susan Auler began Fall Creek Winery on the south shore of Lake Buchannan in the Texas Hill Country. In the year 2005, Texas had fifty wineries and a fledgling organization called Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association to help Texans establish wineries and vineyards along with improving the wine quality of Texas wines. As years progressed, Texas Tech University and Texas A and M University established college courses to teach grape growing and wine making. During this time since 2005, Texas wineries and vineyards have flourished. Texas wines are consistently earning more and more awards, besting California wines under California Wine Judges earning Best in Show along with Double Gold and Gold Medals. The number of Texas wineries has exploded to just over 1,000 making Texas the fourth largest winery permitted State in the Union. During this time, Texas wines are being made available in local stores like HEB, Kroger’s and SPEC’s. However, the best Texas wines are those boutique wines that are only available at Texas wineries.
Texas has every right to be proud of its wonderful history and heritage. Raise a glass of Texas wine to toast Texas Independence Day. We Texans have right to be proud of our State! Long live the State of Texas and our great multi-billion dollar wine industry!

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