As the climate continues to change in Texas, so do the wines we're able to make with the grapes we're able to grow. But that change has been for the better, as evidenced by the increasingly excellent options available from producers across the state.
Below, our top five picks to pick up tonight—most for under $20.
1. McPherson Cellars 2015 Albariño
Kim McPherson has been surprised by how well this grape variety, native to northwestern coastal Spain, has performed in the Texas High Plains AVA, but he’s not complaining. With a few vintages out, each made using grapes grown by small farms in and around Lubbock, this wine has remarkable freshness and vibrant fruit.
H-E-B, Spec’s, under $15
2. Duchman Family Winery 2015 Vermentino
Houston-based cardiologist Stanley Duchman and his wife Lisa, pioneers of the Texas wine industry, first released their white wine made from the Italian grape variety Vermentino in the mid-2000s. Vinified at the couple’s winery in the Texas Hill Country, the wine has racked up an impressive list of accolades over the years. Today, it’s served at leading Houston restaurants including Pappas Bros. Steakhouse.
H-E-B, Spec’s, around $15
3. Haak Vineyards and Winery 2015 Blanc du Bois Estate Dry
The Blanc du Bois grape is a hybrid variety—a cross between European and North American grapes—developed in the late twentieth century to combat Pierce’s Disease (Xyella fastidiosa), a vine illness that plagues U.S. fine-wine grape growers. The winery—located in Santa Fe, about an hour south of Houston, and known for its high-quality offerings under the stewardship of Spanish-born winemaker Marta Łastowska—produces wonderful semi-sweet and reserve bottlings from the same variety.
H-E-B, Spec’s, $18
4. Llano Estacado Cellars 2014 Reserve Tempranillo
Based in Lubbock, Llano Estacado was one of the early pioneers of Texas fine-wine grape growing and winemaking. Founded in 1976, it is one of the biggest producers in terms of volume but is also widely recognized for its quality. The winery’s Reserve Tempranillo, made from the classic grape grown in Rioja, Spain, is a great example of the excellent price-to-quality ratio that Texas can deliver.
Certain H-E-B, Spec’s locations, under $20
5. Cruz de Comal 2014 Troubadour Black Spanish
Former criminal defense attorney and Houstonian Lewis Dickson lives in a rustic-looking log cabin, outfitted with all the amenities of modern life, in the heart of the Texas Hill Country. In the vineyards surrounding his house, he grows grapes without the aid of chemical sprays and makes wine without the use of additives. Remarkably, he uses no sulfur dioxide whatsoever, not even when he bottles his wines (a standard practice among conventional makers). His truly natural wines are one of the most radical expressions of Texas viticulture and, some would argue, the best. Look for his Troubadour Black Spanish on the wonderful wine list at Underbelly.
Available at the winery, $68