Bluebonnet Trail wines don’t have the global brand recognition of wine from Argentina, California, or France. But the Texas wine industry has enjoyed steady growth for several years now, and is now the fifth largest in the the country. A recent shift in the vintification of grapes grown successfully in Napa to Mediterranean varieties has markedly improved the quality of wine grown on the Bluebonnet Wine Trail and elsewhere in Texas. Here are a handful of wines grown near Houston that have received sommeliers’ mark of approval.
Primarily grown in Florida and southeast Texas, Blanc du Bois is an American hybrid strongly influenced by the Italian Muscat in its heritage. Haak Vineyards, Galveston County’s first winery, has been impressing winos with its Madeira Blanc du Bois year after year. The tasting room for Haak’s rare and limited wine is a 45-minute drive from AMLI Memorial Heights.
The other award-winning Madeira Haak Vineyards produces is even more Texan. The Madeira Jacquez, often compared to port, is a rich-flavored wine with hints of caramel, coffee, plums, and walnuts. The Madeira made from the 2008 Jacquez harvest racked up gold, grand star, and silver awards at several Texas wine competitions.
The Carmenere grape has French origins, but is now more strongly associated with Chile. Like its close relative Merlot, this dry red wine grape grows well in Texas. La Fuente’s 2011 Carmenere racked up golds at the Rodeo Uncorked! International Wine Festival. La Fuente’s 2011 Merlot also garnered gold, and its 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon took silver. La Fuente’s Houston winery is a 15-minute drive from AMLI’s Uptown Houston apartments.
Located on a 360-acre ranch midway between Austin and Houston, Saddelhorn has produced several award-winning wines. The winery’s Black Spanish variety has had several fine years since its first harvest in 2006. Saddlehorn’s 2017 estate-grown Black Spanish is now available for purchase.
Solaro Estate’s 2014 Miscela took gold at the 2016 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition in New York. Hints of fruit and chocolate give the Miscela a sweetness, but the wine is very well-balanced. Solara Estate Urban Winery has completely sold out of its 2014 Miscela, but you might still be able to find a bottle at a Houston restaurant or two. Solaro Estate has an urban winery just two miles from AMLI City Vista’s Montrose apartments.
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