Did you know that just a short drive from Dallas is the home of one of the few accredited viticulture and oenology programs in the country? Grayson County College in Denison is home to the T.V. Munson Center, and to a wealth of knowledge for our grape growers and winemakers in Texas. Through programs such as the one administered by Dr. Roy Renfro and his team, the state of Texas continues on the path that has made us a top-five wine producing state and that has seen huge quality improvements over the past decade.
Yesterday, Grayson Count College produced a Viognier Symposium at Brennan Vineyards in Comanche, Texas. I was invited to provide an introduction to the origin, history, and growing regions of the Viognier grape. I stayed to hear excellent seminars by representatives and Viognier proponents from Virginia, Texas, and California. This experience reaffirmed my belief that the Texas wine industry is a dynamic and vibrant community of passionate, knowledgeable, and forward-thinking folks who are working to make our state better recognized in quality wine circles worldwide. The spirit of camaraderie through the sharing of knowledge and experience, both interstate and intrastate, expanded the horizons not only for Viognier, but also for grape growing and winemaking in general within Texas.
While we tend to focus on the finished product, we sometimes forget that grapes are an agricultural product. In other contexts, “hens and chicks”, “overblown”, and “slimy skins” might seem odd terms to associate with one another. But, when speaking of ripening, alcohol levels, and harvesting respectively, these are important topics with regard to Viognier. Much discussion of growing conditions, including excellent detail on ripening habits and fermentation, helped everyone at the symposium to gain a better understanding of what is needed to make the best possible Viognier.
Representatives of Texas wineries Brennan Vineyards, McPherson Cellars, Lone Oak Winery, Alamosa Wine Cellars, and Times Ten Cellars, amongst others, participated in the symposium. I look forward to tasting in their wines the results of the knowledge gained. And, I look forward to the next events that Dr. Renfro and Grayson County College produce to assist our wine industry in a quest for even greater heights.