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tasked by French officials with finding a cure


the plague of the grape

. Meanwhile

across the Atlantic, horticulturist, botanist,

inventor, viticulturist and free thinker Thomas

Volney Munson was experimenting with

cross pollination and rootstocks in Denison,

Texas. Munson had discovered that Texas

soils and climate were similar to many of the

grape growing regions of France. He also

found that Texas had many of its own grape

varieties with particular genetic properties,

very different than the genetic makeup of the

French grapes. This allowed Munson to use

the Texas varieties, the wild Mustang and

other domestic grapes collected mostly in

and around Ingleside, Texas (near Corpus

Christi), to develop phylloxera-resistant

stocks. Working with Munson, Viala grafted

the Texas rootstocks with the French vines,

allowing them to recover from the devastat­

ing grape disease epidemic of the late 19th

Century while still growing the ancient



cultivars. The grafting still continues

today as researchers have discovered the

wild Texas varieties have played an important

role in providing genetic resistance for grape

rootstocks used around the world.

Diverse soils and the Texas climate offer

opportunities for growing a wide variety of

grape types. A wide diversity of genetically

unique grape species has been identified as

native to Texas. The legendary T. V. Munson

of Denison, Texas was one of the most

important grape taxonomists to classify the

grapes of the world in 1909. Vines are ubiq­

uitous. These native species have played an

important role in providing genetic resistance

for grape rootstocks used around the world.

A large contrast exists between native grapes

and commercial wine grape production in

Texas. Growing wine in Texas is very difficult.

It was not however until the 1970s that there

was a renewed interest in winemaking in

Texas. By the mid-1980s, vineyards had

been planted all over Texas, with many even­

tually becoming wineries.




696,200 km



With 10 climatic regions, 14 soil

regions and 11 distinct ecological regions,

regional classification becomes problematic

with differences in soils, topography, geology,

rainfall and plant and animal communities.

One classification system divides Texas into

the following:

Gulf Coastal Plains

Interior Lowlands

Great Plains

Basin and Range Province

The large size of Texas and its location at the

intersection of multiple climate zones gives

the state highly variable weather. The Pan­

handle of the state has colder winters than

North Texas, while the Gulf Coast has mild

winters. Texas has wide variations in precipi­

tation patterns. El Paso, on the western end

of the state, averages 220 mm of annual

rainfall, while parts of southeast Texas aver­

age as much as 1,600 mm per year. Dallas in

the North Central region averages a more

moderate 940 mm per year.

Snow falls multiple times each winter in the

Panhandle and mountainous areas of West

Texas, once or twice a year in North Texas

and once every few years in Central and East