The Texas Grape Harvest is done
June 14, 2024


How to Get into the Wine Business
The Texas Wine Industry has exploded. Texas had one winery survive Prohibition, being Val Verde Winery which sold sacramental wines during that time period. Prohibition ended in 1933 with Texas getting its first winery after Prohibition ended in 1976. Dr. McPherson from Texas Tech University established Llano Estacado Winery in Lubbock in 1976. Doc told me there had been three generations of Texas Alcoholic Beverage Agency (TABC) employees that had never permitted a Texas Winery so he taught them how to permit the winery facility, being a college professor. By 1980, there were four wineries, being Val Verde, Llano Estacado, Fall Creek, and Messina Hof. Twenty Five years later in 2005, there were 50! Today, the number of licensed Texas Wineries is approaching 1,000. These wineries are located all over Texas in most of the 254 counties in Texas. The hardest part of the wine industry is getting a good source of Texas grapes. This is your first step. Find a source of grapes or grow your own. Growing grapes can be a challenge since it is about the quality of the land, weather impacts, and disease vectors. Hybrid grapes like Blanc du Bois can be grown along the Gulf Coast, but molds are a big challenge with our humidity along the Gulf Coast. If you want to grow the classic grapes (Vitis vinifera) like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and more, you will need land further off the Gulf Coast where the Summer night temperatures are in the 50’s and 60’s. This also means lower night humidity levels which will dissipate the day heat quickly. The best location to grow grapes in Texas is the Texas High Plains where the altitude is above 3,000 feet above sea level, the humidity is low, disease vectors are subdued, but the winds can be fierce. If you want to learn more about growing grapes in Texas, contact Fritz Westover and his Virtual Vineyard Academy at [email protected]. Another good source of information on growing grapes is at Texas Tech University at its Fredericksburg camp or the T. V. Munson School of Oenology at Grayson Community College, north of Dallas. The Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association (TWGGA) has a variety of programs to help the aspiring vineyard owner. Establishing a vineyard is a challenge with your first crop of grapes coming in three y ears after you plant your vineyard.
If you want to establish a winery, you MUST get permits from the TABC and from the Federal Government. You will need to file bonds with the State and Federal Government and follow a myriad of Rules, file monthly paperwork, and be ready for audits. The permits are required if you want to sell wine. I personally make two to three 55-gallon oak barrels of wine for my personal consumption in any given years. A barrel will equate to around 22 cases of wine. That is a lot of wine. If you want to learn to make wine, I suggest you do the following:
1. Read the book “from Vine to Wine.”
2. Attend Oenology courses available at Munson School, Texas Tech, and/or Texas A and M.
3. Check with TWGGA for its courses and gathering.
4. Intern at a winery during Crush (harvest of grapes and crushing them) to learn the practical aspects of winemaking.
5. Contract with a custom wine pad such as at Messina Hof in Bryan to make wine.
6. Work with John Rivenbaugh at Kerrville Hills Winery in his Winery Incubator
Getting into the wine business because it is “romantic” is not a good reason. You must be passionate about it. This reminds me of the question of “How do you make a small fortune in the wine business?” You start with a large one. Good luck in planning this through Please email me if you have questions, comments, or just want to visit about wine at [email protected].

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