LUBBOCK, Texas – Over the last decade, many believe that “Red Raiderland” has gradually become “Red Wine Country.”
Wine experts call Lubbock and its surrounding area the new “Wine Capital of Texas,” mostly because 80% of wine grapes grown in Texas come from the South Plains.
“The reason is because of our climate, our elevation, and the amount of wind blowing. That really helps out,” said Jason Centanni, winemaker at Lubbock’s Llano Estacado Winery.
Llano Estacado is one of Lubbock’s oldest and most popular wineries, along with English-Newsome and McPherson Cellars. All three offer wine tastings, wine club memberships and wine tours. Visitors can see the bottling process from start to finish.
“A lot of the times, our visitors are leaving with wine and a smile on their face and telling their friends, ‘That Texas wine thing is not amateur hour anymore,’” Centanni said. “It’s pretty good.”
“A lot of people don’t know Llano is from Lubbock. They think we’re from Llano, [Texas],” Centanni said in reference to the name of a city northwest of Austin. By contrast, the Llano Estacado region covers much of West Texas and Eastern New Mexico.
Why Lubbock is the place for wine
The West Texas wine gives Visit Lubbock, the community’s tourism promoter, bragging rights.
“Texas is on the map, not just across the country but around the world, and the industry is only growing more. People are realizing we can grow not only cabs, but other grapes also,” said Dr. Vijay Reddy for Lubbock’s downloadable visitor guidebook, referring to a variety of cabernet grapes.
So, what makes the area vineyards so special?
According to the visitor guide, “The dry, semi-arid climate coupled with the rich, draining soil are among the conditions that make the area stand out from other grape growing regions across the state.”
“We can make some pretty, what I call, head-turning wines — hit some home runs,” Centanni said.
Visit Lubbock has an online page to help visitors explore wineries and craft beer.