The Texas High Plains is home to roughly 4,000 acres of commercial vineyards and about 80 percent of all wine grapes grown in the state. This came as a surprise to me because I thought the only thing grown in this region was cotton. After learning about this statistic, I set out to find exactly why High Plains wine grapes grow so well.
The Texas High Plains has sandy loam soil with some caliche underneath. This soil is perfect for growing wine grapes. The grapevines thrive here because the soil has good drainage, which helps the water reach the roots. Our well-drained soils encourage the roots to seek out water, ultimately produceing better roots.
Stepping into the vineyard on a nice spring day. Photo by Mario Gonzaga
The Texas High Plains is perfect for growing high-quality wine grapes. In this area, we have some really hot summer days; this is essential for ripening the grapes. Due to the altitude, we have cold nights, which allows the grape’s juices to cool off and slow down the ripening process. Unlike cotton production, low rainfall and humidity are ideal for conditions for grape production because it reduces the presence of grape diseases. The amount of sunlight we have is great for the red grape’s skin color, which makes more intense flavors and colors in the wine. Our warm, dry climate is ideal for grape varieties acclimated to Mediterranean conditions.
3. Educational Resources
Texas Tech plays a vital role in helping the wine industry flourish in the High Plains. Texas Tech actively promotes the education of viticulture and enology by being the first university in this region to offer certificate programs and coursework relating to this industry. Texas Tech also has a Wine Marketing Research Institute that educates various audiences interested in the wine industry. With the support of Texas Tech, the local government and community have accepted the wine industry as a part of their culture.
4. Agricultural Economy
Because the High Plains is prime real estate for agricultural businesses, it’s no wonder the wine industry has found its home here. We have resources such as irrigation companies, skilled laborers and the knowledge of farming to help this industry thrive. According to the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association, there are more than 436 wineries in Texas, most of which are fueled with grapes from the High Plains.
The High Plains was built on the foundation of agriculture. This cultivates a community that supports viticulture because they view it as what it is — another form of farming.
The High Plains is thriving in the wine industry and is continuing to grow. Now that you know more about wine grapes in the High Plains, make sure to grab a bottle of wine made with local grapes.