Important Areas of Texas Not in an AVA
Important Areas of Texas Not in an AVA
(#8 of 10 in a Series: “Texas AVAs – What and Why?”)
As noted in previous parts of this series, an AVA designation on a wine label allows vintners to more accurately describe to consumers the origin of the grapes used to produce their wines and help consumers identify wines with characteristics they prefer to purchase. Wine consumers are becoming more curious about the origin of grapes used to produce the wines they enjoy. In the broadest sense, grapes can come from anywhere – another country, anywhere else in the U.S. (another state), anyplace in Texas, or from a more specifically defined area or region in Texas.
Does an AVA designation matter? – Sure it does, especially to the grape grower and winemaker! And, it is beginning to matter more to consumers. So, like suggested in earlier posts, open a delicious Texas wine, sit back, and learn more about the issues of NOT being in a Texas AVA.
Texas growers and wineries located within an AVA can use that designation to an advantage. Two AVAs, Texas Hill Country and Texas High Plains, are so large that some might argue the AVA designation only scratches the surface in helping consumers appreciate the actual origin for grapes. This is something that certainly needs to be addressed, and undoubtedly will be in the next few decades as sub-AVAs are developed.
However, there is another pressing issue in that some of the best vineyards and wineries in the Lone Star State are NOT INCLUDED in an AVA. So how do they best designate where vineyards are located and identify the origin of grapes made into wines? More on this subject will follow, but first let’s consider those areas not included in a Texas AVA.
Referring to Figure 1, note the two large areas within the dark ovals, West Central and North Texas (WCNT) and Northeastern Texas (NET). The WCNT area of interest ranges from the Escondido Valley AVA near Ft. Stockton on Interstate 10 northeastward all the way to the Red River border with Oklahoma, sandwiched in between the two large Texas Hill Country and Texas High Plains AVAs. There are quite a few vineyards in this WCNT region, including those in Comanche County, Tarrant County, Red River area west of Texoma, Midland, and others. There are also a growing number of wineries in the most northern part of this area, especially as one approaches Interstate 20, south and north of the DFW metroplex, and the Red River Valley south and west of Texoma AVA. Efforts are underway to develop AVA petitions for TTB approval for some parts of this area, and hopefully these will be reviewed favorably and approved soon.
Figure 1. The Eight Texas AVAs plus other key growing regions
There are quality vineyards planted in this WCNT area and a number of notable wineries producing fine wines from these vineyards. Examples include: Hidden Hanger, Homestead Winery, OG Cellars, Bluff Dale Vyds, Lost Oak Winery, Rancho Loma Vyds, Watson Vyd, Brennan Vyds, Greens Creek Cellars, Los Nopales Vyds, Brix Winery, 3 Texans Winery, and Christoval Vyds (certainly not a comprehensive list – please see the Texas Wine Lover website for more).
Farther out west are also vineyards of note, in particular the large Dell Valley Vineyards near Dell City, TX, north of the Davis Mountains and close to the New Mexico border. High quality fruit is produced from nearly 300 acres of vines planted at over 3,500 ft elevation.
The Northeastern Texas (NET) area is really wrapped around Tyler, extending north to the Oklahoma border and south for over 100 miles. Climate, hot and humid, can make it more challenging to grow vitis vinifera grapes in the NET region, but a number of Texas growers have risen to the challenge, and more are sure to follow. Some quality vineyards are planted in this area and several notable wineries are producing fine wines from these vineyards, including: Pella Legna, Kiepersol Vyds and Winery, Los Pinos Ranch Vyds, Tara Vyd, Elysium Wines, Rowdy Creek Ranch, and Sages Vintage custom crush winery just a bit further south near Nacogdoches (certainly not a comprehensive list – please see the Texas Wine Lover website for more).
It should also be noted that there are several vineyards planted further south towards the Texas Gulf Coast. Several producing vineyards are located just north of IH-10 west of the Houston metropolitan area, and, once again, are not included in a Texas AVA. The typical varieties in these vineyards include Blanc du Bois white and Black Spanish (or Lenoir) red grapes that function better in more humid climates and are more naturally resistant to Pierce’s Disease. Grapes from these vineyards are often used by Haak Vineyards, located near Santa Fe, TX (west of Galveston and very close to the Gulf of Mexico) to produce award-winning wines.
Developing an AVA petition for the TTB is an extremely time consuming and detailed effort. Until dedicated members of the Texas Wine Industry step forward to meet this challenge, there is new Texas legislation that may help in the meantime. A new law signed by Governor Abbott, effective 01-Sep-2021, essentially sets labeling standards for wines to contain 100% Texas grapes if the label indicates a county, AVA, or vineyard within the state (discussed in more detail in the next Carl’s Corner post). Of particular interest and potential value is the use of a County designation that now requires 75% of the grapes come from within that county and the remaining 25% must also come from within Texas. This will essentially confirm to consumers that the wine in the bottle is a REAL Texas Wine produced from 100% Texas-grown grapes. More and more we expect to see County designations on Texas wine labels to indicate grape origin for growers and wineries both outside an AVA and even to more precisely pinpoint locations within the larger AVAs.
The Texas Wine Lover website, created and maintained by Jeff Cope, is a great source listing most of the vineyards and wineries located in the Lone Star State.
Previous Carl’s Corner Posts in this “Texas AVAs – What and Why?” Series include the following: all posted on www.texaswinecollective.com website
#1 What’s An AVA, Mama? 05-Jan-2022
#2 What Does an AVA on a Wine Label Mean? 22-Jan-2022
#3 How is an AVA Established? 28-Feb-2022
#4 What is the Value of an AVA? 14-Mar-2022
#5 Texas Hill Country AVA 25-Apr-2022
#6 Texas High Plains AVA 09-May-2022
#7 Other Texas AVAs 06-Jul-2022