Texas wineries and grape growers are abuzz with a lot of positive energy, partially attributable to the industry organizing and mobilizing itself after the Texas Department of Agriculture’s funding cuts for education and marketing.
Close to home, there’s momentum within the Texas Hill Country Wineries, formerly known as the Texas Hill Country Wine Trail, which recently welcomed three new wineries and a tasting room to its organization to bring the total number of members to 36.
The new members include Lewis Wines in Johnson City; Wedding Oak Winery in San Saba; Fiesta Winery Fredericksburg, which also has a tasting room at the winery in Lometa; and Hye Meadow Winery in Hye, which is scheduled to open by early May.
“We’ve really grown past just being a trail organization. We’re really a wine consumer-driven organization,” says John Rivenburgh, who is president of the group and co-founder of Bending Branch Winery in Comfort.
New events include four Kick-off Tastings for each of the four trails throughout the year, as well as two Barrel, Tank and Futures Tastings in the spring and fall. Texas Hill Country Wineries hosted barrel tastings last year during its A Month of Sundays event for Texas Wine Month in October.
This year, the barrel tastings will include 15 Texas Hill Country Wineries over the course of one weekend in the spring and fall. Reservations for the May 10-12 event are limited to 100 people and cost $100 for individuals, $175 for couples or $300 for a carload of four people, and can be purchased at www.texaswine trail.com.
The organization also has plans to further educate consumers about the wine and grape industry.
In addition to happenings in the near Hill Country, there is a new Top of the Hill Country Wine Trail comprising seven wineries — Alamosa Wine Cellars, Fiesta Winery, Perissos Vineyards, Pillar Bluff Vineyards, Pilot Knob Vineyard, Texas Legato and Wedding Oak Winery — to encourage tourism farther north in the Texas Hill Country American Viticultural Area.
There’s a map and more information about the trail at www.topofhillcountry. com.
Consumers can also look forward to the July launch of a new mobile app that aims to replace the Texas Winery Passport Program, which was a casualty of the state budget cuts.
Whether planning to visit the trails during the wild flower season or supporting Wine Tourism Day on May 11, it’s easy to see how the Texas Hill Country has become the second most-visited wine region in the United States, behind California.
Jennifer McInnis is the wine and spirits writer for the Express-News. Follow her on Twitter @JenMcInnis or email email@example.com.
Through the Grapevine: Texas Wineries Gaining Momentum – San Antonio Express-News; Jennifer McInnis, 4/11/13