For centuries before the arrival of Europeans, native grapevines flourished
in the area now known as Texas. When the Spanish missionaries arrived
in the 1600s, they planted vineyards near El Paso. In the 1800s several
settlers grew grapes in South and Central Texas. They were most successful
with native varieties.
In the 1880s, an insect pest devastated the French wine industry. T.V.
Munson of Denison, Texas helped save France’s wine industry by
introducing hardy, pest resistant native Texan varieties. By hybridizing
native Texas varieties of grapes with other varieties from around the world,
Munson developed 300 disease-resistant new varieties suitable for Texas
and the Southwestern United States.
There were twenty-five wineries in Texas by 1900, including Val Verde
Winery in Del Rio, which was established in 1883. Texas wineries closed
during Prohibition. Many reopened when Prohibition was repealed, but
only Val Verde succeeded in remaining open. Today it is Texas’ oldest
winery still in operation. Beginning in the 1970s, the Austin area became
the home for several new, successful vineyards.
In 1975 Fall Creek Vineyards, in Tow about 61 miles northwest of Austin,
was the first vineyard and winery to be established in the Hill Country. This
lthough not widely known for its vineyards,
Texas has a growing wine industry with over
220 bonded wineries across the state. Many
of these are right here in the Austin area.