I think a lot about the Texas wine industry, though probably not nearly as much as each winemaker in the state; however, when I get a chance to share a few glasses of wine and spend more than just a few minutes with just about anyone associated with the industry I wax pretty eloquent about the subject.
Usually, at some point in the conversation I acknowlege that my experience with and knowledge of all things wine is extremely limited and that I won’t get offended if they call BS on me or tell me that I’m wrong or short-sighted or simply ignorant of the facts. I don’t get called out very much – in fact I don’t remember ever being corrected on anything but minor facts; nevertheless, I “know what I don’t know”, and that’s a lot, I readily admit.
Still, like any good Texan, I have pretty strong opinions about things, particularly Texas wine, wineries, TABC, and just about anything dealing with the industry, and when I get those minutes with winemakers, managers, and winery owners, I ask about what it will take to “put Texas on the wine map”, as it were. Of course, I offer my well-meaning-but-probably-misguided opinions to the conversation
Every wine maker I have talked to plainly states that as an industry we aren’t competing, or shouldn’t try to compete, with California, Oregon, Washington, Virginia, France, Italy, Argentina, or any other wine-producing area in the world. I keep saying that for the price, Texas wines can’t “compete” with California varietals; Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, etc., etc., and that the grape growers and winemakers that impress me the most have taken time to find out which grapes can flourish and produce delicious wines in their chosen terroir.
SIDE NOTE: When Julie and I talk about “Texas” wines, we always mean “grown in Texas”, because no matter where you vat, ferment, or bottle a bulk grape, it won’t taste the same as one grown in Texas soil. You can’t “naturalize” a grape and grant it citizenship in a vat, barrel, or bottle. A true Texas wine, in my opinion, must carry the flavor imparted by Texas soil.
Where I have realized that I am going wrong in my approach to Texas wines and blogging about Texas wineries is that I somehow have thought of them as being a coherent “industry” with a common goal of growing the whole industry for all the participants, and it just isn’t that way. Sure they have the wine trails and TWGGA, but ultimately the “common” goal of each individual winery is to make money; and each grower, winemaker, winery owner — and blogger — will have widely varying opinons and ideas on the best way to do so. If they can each make some respectable money and help grow the industry for everyone, that’s a bonus, but it’s not the primary goal of each individual participant in the industry.
It’s really easy to pass judgement when you don’t have a “dog in that fight”, and that’s what I just realized. Sure, I’m passionate about Texas wines and the industry. I see such promise and potential – just as I am sure many did in California years ago; and Julie and I thoroughly enjoy spending time with winemakers just to learn from them. And maybe I’m objective enough to see the Texas wine industry and all its moving parts as a “machine” that could be so much more than it is – and know how to “oil” that machine some…
You know what finally dawned on me? No one has really asked for my counsel on how to “fix” things. In fact, I can’t say that any winemaker has even asked me for my opinion, though I have given it all too freely – especially when I’ve had a couple of glasses of fine Texas wine.
You know why Texas vineyard owners grow grapes and winemakers make wine and Texans visit wineries?
Because they (and we) want to.
Sure. some of the growers and winemakers want to make kick-ass wines that will turn the world on its ear, but many of them just want to make wine – good wine, sellable wine, and profitable wine; but they don’t all care if the world outside of their local customers give a rip about their wine, and they don’t necessarily give a rip about what anyone else thinks about their wine. And that’s OK.
I’ve been really concerned about what I write on my blog because I don’t want to offend anyone who might misread something I say – that I prefer one winery’s Malbec over another, or Viognier, or whatever… or that I may irritate another blogger by being so opinionated about things. But I realized this too…
I write this blog because I want to. Just like I wrote Texas Wine Traveller for the iPhone. Because I want to. Julie and I visit wineries because we want to, and we visit the wineries we want to visit.
As much as I might want to be a spokesperson for Texas wines and wineries, I’m not. Frankly, I don’t have the time even though I have the desire. But what is really freeing about not being a spokesperson… I can write what I want to. If I’m all gaga about Winery A this week and Winery B in two weeks, it’s because I want to be. Actually, it may seem that way, but I’m really gaga about nearly every winery we have visited. I just haven’t written about all of them – mostly because of time pressures.
Right now we’re gaga about William Chris Vineyards. And Alamosa. And Duchman. And Tara. And Messina Hof… and what’s the proof? Our wine inventory. We don’t just visit Texas wineries and write about Texas wineries, we invest in them by exchanging our cash for their sweat. Texas sweat from Texas grapes. Bottled and labelled, corked or screw-topped (I don’t really care). We don’t just talk Texas wine, we buy it, drink it, and love to share it.
And I like to write about it, too.