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Thursday, February 21, 2019

Is Texas Wine Any Good Yet? Millennials Could Help the Push

Posted By on Thu, Feb 21, 2019 at 12:12 PM

  • Photo via Instagram / kasey1029

Assume that there are no unbreakably, unified categories of good wine and bad wine. Assume palate is subjective. Assume that being a really good sommelier is more art than science. If you go along that far, then perhaps you can be convinced that the fickle predilections of millennials might hold the key to the local industry.

But first: is wine from Texas any good?

The SWC (Standard Wine Consumer) probably would say no. The classic SWC likes Merlots, Pinot Noirs, perhaps a summertime Chardonnay. Maybe he will pony up for a big ole Cabernet to buy for his boss in hopes that he will make partner. Texas winemakers in the Hill Country and High Plains are still relatively new  in the commercial wine industry.

So that's the problem. Texas wineries want to sell to the SWC because the SWC knows what he likes, looks for it and then actually buys it. The SWC will wander his grocery store's haphazardly curated wine section. Not seeing what he knows in the Texas section, he will just slink off and buy Barefoot or Yellowtail.

So perhaps you appease the SWC and grow some pinot grapes. That's door number one, and it's going to involve over-ripe Texas fruit and supplemental California grapes blended in. As long as the wine consists of 75 percent Texas grapes, it is considered a Texas wine.

Increasingly, Texas wine producers are choosing to expand the SWC's wine vocabulary and leaning on some lesser-known grapes, such as Viognier and Roussanne. The Texas climate does well for both.

Cinsault is a drought-resistant grape popular in Morocco. William Chris winery (about 60 miles north of San Antonio) has won praise for their 2017 crop of it. Trebbiano often gets blended into brandy, but Duchman Family Winery (in nearby Driftwood) won a double gold medal at the San Francisco International Wine Competition for theirs.

You can also find Sangiovese, Montepulciano and plenty of Tempranillo, Pedernales Cellars' Texas Tempranillo being a popular expression.

Texas wine tourism can be written off as know-nothings knocking around Fredericksburg for antiques and German souvenirs, but a new generation of wine consumers might be changing that.

Wine is actually the latest thing that millennials are killing. A study from The Drinks Business concluded that millennials are contributing to an overall decline in wine consumption. The 57-page report blamed millennials "delayed appreciation for wine" on cannabis legalization and — you know — being broke as hell.

The same study also found that millennials were "more willing to experiment, gravitating towards innovative products and alternative wine types."

This is the opening for Texas wines. The study vaguely suggests selling wine in cans and nodding towards a concern for a healthy lifestyle (just wait until somebody figures out that all wine is gluten-free), but the truth is that millennials simply are not the SWC. 

As local-minded omni-boozers, they don't care about Pinot Noir as a thing. They just want to try some wine, man. If you believe in buzzwords, growing grapes suited for local soil is as bio-dynamic as it gets.

People are starting to figure this out. Winc, Plonk and Wine Awesomeness are all wine-subscription services marketed to millennials. Someone is going to figure out a way to get Texas terroir to that same audience. You heard it here first.

So many restaurants, so little time. Find out the latest San Antonio dining news with our Flavor Friday Newsletter.

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