Wine for West Texans

Grapes hanging on the vines at Farmhouse Vineyards in Brownfield, Texas, before being harvested that night.

The West Texas wine industry has capitalized on making wine more approachable to all audiences, all while having a great quality product to talk about.

 Alayna Koemel is a student at Texas Tech University who is a dual major in meat science and agricultural communications. Koemel works as a tasting room employee and event assistant at Llano Estacado Winery.

“Wine to me means connecting to people,” Koemel said. “The only thing that connects me to them is wine. It is so eye-opening to see a simple bottle of liquid that can connect me to someone that lives across the world.”

Alayna Koemel, is a Texas Tech student who also is a part-time worker at Llano Estacado winery, located in Lubbock, Texas.

Koemel has had the opportunity while working at Llano Estacado Winery to see just how influential wine can be on people. It is a gateway to new conversations with contrasting individuals who typically would not have much in common.

“All these people are at different stages of life, but once you introduce a bottle of wine, it’s a way to begin the conversation and blend people who typically would not blend,” Koemel said.

Therefore, don’t think of wine as expensive and fancy and only found in exotic places. Think of wine as a conversation starter that can be enjoyed on the back porch with old or new friends.

“The most heavily farmed and regulated commodity, which is heavily marketed as luxurious, started at a supper table with Christ,” Katy Jane Seaton said, one of four owners of Farmhouse Vineyards in Brownfield, Texas.

On the back of their bottle West Texas Girlfriend it says “We often speak of our ‘Village & Vineyard,’ but a core sisterhood can be the most powerful relationship we have.”

Wine is meant for everyone.

Not only can the wine industry be easygoing and informal in West Texas, but you can also find fine wine there, too. The individuality of West Texas vineyard owners and winemakers is impressive and very different from other customary wine destinations such as Napa Valley, California. West Texas in recent years has been noticed by the wine industry and is continually pushing for a seat at the table with other well-known wine locations across the country.

“The uniqueness of where the grapes are from, the soil they were grown in, what kind of fermentation they went through, and what each winemaker thought would be the best way to produce a bottle of wine is very unique and special,” Koemel said.

Winemaking is no easy task; it takes years of education and training. Just like winemaking, farming in West Texas can be nothing short of difficult. Farming any commodity in West Texas is a challenge, especially grapes.

“It’s definitely a neighborly love between the farmers and the wineries,” Koemel said. “Wineries in the region appreciate the farmers that grow the grapes they use and recognize all the hurdles they must jump through.”

Farmers are dealing with precious cargo fighting off pesticides, drought, and many other challenges, all to produce high-quality grapes, which showcases how resilient the West Texas farmers are.

“Lubbock and Texas High Plains wineries depend on and support our local farmers, and that’s something I really love about our industry,” Koemel said.

Anthony Seaton gives his vines one last look before harvesting the fruit later that night.