When people think about wine, they probably think about California. While The Golden State does have some incredible wines, there are also some really exceptional Texas wine labels. In fact, according to the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association, the first vineyard in North America was established in Texas in 1659 by Franciscan monks. Other Texas settlers continued to bring vines to their new home, and there are many European varieties here today. Texas is even home to some native species of grapes. Uncultivated grapes can be found growing wild along the Guadalupe river in Victoria for example.
Even people who don’t consider themselves wine drinkers could probably at least name Robert Mondavi when asked about California wine labels. Texas wines may be a little less familiar, but they are no less excellent. Here are 10 Texas wine labels you should try.
Dry Comal Creek Vineyards
Dry Comal Creek Vineyards and Winery is located just outside New Braunfels in the Texas Hill Country. The winery itself is beautiful, but the views are nothing compared to the wine. Dry Comal Creek’s Foot-Pressed Red is perfect for sangria on a Texas Summer afternoon. In fact, Dry Comal Creek hosts an annual Grape Stomp for those who want to participate in the ancient winemaking custom of foot pressing. If you don’t have time to visit, you can find Dry Comal Creek all over Texas at places like Randall’s and Central Market.
The Messina Hof winery in Bryan has been a Texas staple among wine drinkers since it opened in 1977. The winery itself is now a resort and B&B where guests can visit, stay and even get married. You can find Messina Hof at H-E-B and on the menu at Saltgrass Steakhouse restaurants. This label’s Cabernet Franc is a must-try for wine lovers.
If you think good wine grapes only grow in the verdant locales of central and east Texas, then you’d be mistaken. Llano Estacado, named for the North West Texas region the wine is from, was originally the dream of a Texas Tech horticulturist. Today, Llano Estacado is the largest winery in Texas. The Llano Estacado Signature White is especially popular. It has sweet undertones and citrus notes that make it particularly pleasant.
Becker Vineyards, located in Stonewall, is a winner among Texas wine labels. And I’m not just whistlin’ Dixie here. Becker’s 2013 Texas Cabernet Sauvignon won the gold medal at the San Francisco International Wine Competition. You can find Becker in stores and restaurants across the Lone Star State. It has even been served in the White House.
Fredericksburg is a fantastic place to find great Texas wines. Grape Creek is a heavy favorite among Texas wine drinkers. Grape Creek’s Cabernet Syrah is particularly full-bodied and flavorful. In addition to their Fredericksburg winery, Grape Creek also recently opened a location on the Square in Georgetown.
Peach Creek Vineyards
Really what better place for a vineyard than near an agricultural university? Peach Creek Vineyards is located in College Station, and is a label every Texan should try. Wine blogger Jennifer Evans called Peach Creek’s Rodeo Red “A sweet and peppy wine.” The Rodeo Red blends estate Lenoir and Lomanto grapes.
Saddlehorn is pretty new to the wine biz here in Texas. The winery opened in 2009, but that hasn’t stopped them from winning awards for their vintages. In fact, Saddlehorn’s Black Spanish variety won several awards at the 2016 Lone Star International Wine Competition. The vineyard is located in Burton, Texas.
Just outside of Montgomery, Texas is the Bernhardt Winery. Bernhardt is a member of the Go Texan initiative from the Texas Department of Agriculture. Among their many delicious wines, the Pinnelli is particularly popular, prized for its sweet and refreshing taste.
Lost Draw Cellars
For a label called “Lost Draw” there’s really nothing lost with this wine. The vineyards for Lost Draw Cellars are in Brownfield, Texas, but the tasting room is in Fredericksburg. You don’t want to miss this one on your next Hill Country wine tour. The 2013 Sangiovese from Lost Draw made it into Texas Monthly, who proclaimed it to have flavors of “lavender, ripe cherries and graham cracker crumbs”.
Hank Vineyards and Winery
In tiny Santa Fe, Texas there is a winery that is big on flavor. Haak Vineyards and Winery began as a grape-growing hobby between Raymond and Gladdys Haak in 1969. In the ensuing 47 years the Haak family have perfected their craft and began sharing it with Texans in 2000. The winery was even covered in the Houston Chronicle in 2013. Haak is known for having created the first Texas Madeira.