Brian Greenstone

The Greenstone Guide to Austin & The Hil Country



There aren't many things on this site that get a 1 flag rating, so let me just get this out of the way: Texas wines suck. Texans are very proud of their state, and sometimes they're proud of things that they shouldn't be - our wines are one of those things. The Texas wine industry has really taken off in the last decade partly due to changes in the state laws, and partly because there are a lot of people out there who don't know the difference between a good bottle of wine, Welch's grape juice, and Bartles & James.

If you know anything about good wine then I'm just preaching to the choir. Anyone with taste buds who's had good wine knows that Texas wine is overall possibly the worst on the planet. Now I should say that not "all" Texas wines are actually terrible. There are several wineries that make "ok / drinkable" wines (I won't name them), but the vast majority of them make wine that's so awful you can't possibly finish a glass. Suffice to say that if it's a wine you've seen on the menu in a restaurant then it's probably drinkable, but it's still not going to be anything memorable, so my recommendation is to just forget about it and get a good Californian bottle or a bottle from some place where they know how to make wine.

Often I hear people say that Texas wines are "so good because our climate is good for growing grapes". What??? Sorry, but the truth could not be more off. Nowhere in Texas is the climate anything like, oh, say Napa Valley, and I was unaware that the summers in Italy regularly reach 104º. Often times the wineries mix in so much fruit juice to cover up the bad grapes that you can't tell if you're drinking wine or Hi-C. I often refer to Texas wineries a "wine-cooleries" because most of their wines resemble a bad wine cooler rather than a real wine.

That being said, should you want to find out for yourself there are many wineries just outside of Austin that offer tours. I'm not going to name any here, but you shouldn't have a hard time finding them. Unlike wineries in California which usually don't charge for tastings, here in Texas you'll usually pay a fee to sample their concoctions. If you do find a Texas wine that you like, alert the media - no, seriously, if you do find one you like think hard about it before paying more than $11 for a bottle. In my opinion no Texas wine is worth more than maybe $9 a bottle. For that much money you can still get a good Chilean, Californian, Argentinian, etc. wine. There are hundreds of great wines out there, and life is too short to waste your time with Texas fruit juice.

©2001-2011 Brian Greenstone