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The central-western third of the state is

known as the Trans-Pecos Regions which

produces about 40 per cent of the state’s

grape in the highest altitude vineyards of

the area. More than two thirds of all the

wine produced in Texas comes from this

area. The calcareous soil in the Texas High

Plains is characterised as red sandy loam

(tiera roja) over caliche (limestone) with

moderate low fertility, a terroir similar to

that found in Coonawarra in Australia. The

vines are exposed to long days of sunshine

and cool nights due to an elevation of over

1 060m. Cold temperatures during the

winter give the vines opportunity to shut

down and go dormant before the growing

season. The Ogallala Aquifer provides

water resources for irrigation and serves as

a tempering effect on the high summer

temperatures and extreme winter hazards

such as freezing temperatures and hail.

The effects of constant wind over the flat

terrain serve as a buffer against viticulture

diseases such as odium and powdery mil­


Harvest time in Texas is normally around the

end of July, two months earlier than in Cali­

fornia and three months earlier than most of

the wine regions in France.

Viewed in terms of its past, Texas winemak­

ing has a long and rich heritage from which

to draw. The lands that now comprise the

state of Texas are among the oldest wine-

producing regions in the US, but the newest

to establish an industry of winemaking. In

fact, wine grapes were planted in Texas more

than a hundred years before they were

planted in California. Most historians agree

that the earliest vineyards, thought to grow

the mission varietal grape, no longer found in

Texas, were planted by Franciscan priests as

early as the 1650’s along the Rio Grande

River near present day El Paso. Early Euro­

pean settlers in Texas also planted (for the

most part, unsuccessfully) European Vitis

vinifera grape varietals in an effort to maintain

the wine culture they had enjoyed in their

homelands. German immigrants who settled

in New Braunfels and Fredericksburg had

success producing wines from the native

mustang grapes, although those wines

would most likely not be palatable today.

According to the Texas wine industry, as

European settlers followed the development

of mission outposts across the frontier, they

brought more grapevine cuttings, further

developing the industry through the late

1800s. Four hundred years later and grapes

are still being grown in Texas and bottled into

wine, though the wine and grape industry

has changed greatly since those early days.

Texas modern history with the grape started

in the early 1880s. France was hit with a

devastating grape disease that all but de­

stroyed the wine industry and French econo­

my. A French scientist, Pierre Viala, was