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Texas: When It Comes to Growing Grapes, Weather Rules

Visitors to Texas may notice that the summer weather is not exactly temperate. In fact, it’s hot. Real hot. It’s nothing like the misty valleys of Northern California and Oregon or the fabled French wine regions of Burgundy and Bordeaux.. So it’s no surprise that the wine grapes flourishing in Texas are more akin to those of the Mediterranean regions of southern France, Spain and Italy.

Commercial winemaking began to take off in Texas in the 1970s, with Texas winemakers producing wines from grapes that consumers would recognize, such as Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

However, by the 1990s, winemakers began to admit that it was the Mediterranean-style grapes that did best here. Consequently, many vineyards were replanted with Mediterranean-style grapes to take full advantage of the hot, dry Texas weather. The resulting Texas wines -- from grapes like Viognier, Sangiovese, Syrah, Pinot Grigio and Tempranillo -- are fruitier, less heavy, more subtle and very food-friendly. They pair well with Texas specialties such as barbecued and grilled foods, Gulf Coast seafood and spicy Tex-Mex.

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