Here on the South Plains, cotton may be king, but grapes are also helping put Lubbock on the map. Texas is the country's fifth largest producer of grapes and wine. There are about 100 wineries in the state, with a handful of them just minutes from Lubbock.
Llano Estacado Winery started in the mid 1970's and helped to usher in modern wine making to this area. "We had three Texas Tech professors who I guess had some spare time on their hands," Greg Bruni, Vice President and Executive Winemaker said. "They decided to see if they could grow premium wine from Texas grapes," he adds.
It appears the experiment worked because Llano Estacado is the second oldest winery in Texas, and the fifth largest producer of premium wines in the country. "We will process 1,200 tons of grapes this year here at this winery," Bruni added.
Bruni says 18 wines will be made from those grapes with roots in Lubbock and across Texas. "We have about 800 barrels at the winery and 60% of what we make is barrel aged for one to three years," Bruni said.
Not yet ready to bottle, we got an early taste of Llano's Viviano wine. A wine Bruni says is one of their best. "This will be three years in the barrel. So we're in the second year right now," Bruni said.
"Here's to 100 years of Lubbock Texas," he added.
Not far away is Cap*Rock Winery known for its stunning wine making facility. "It was based on an old Texas mission or Spanish mission style. We have a lot of people come here and say ‘wow, did this used to be a church?' We try to explain to them there aren't a lot of churches in Lubbock with 50 feet ceiling, all concrete floors that slope," General Manager, Phillip Anderson said.
Anderson says grapes from Texas and California are used to make their wines. Built in 1988, the first grapes were pressed here in 1991. Today, seven wines are made at this winery. "This is our barrel room and we have a lot of our red wines in barrels for a year and a half," Anderson said. "We're trying a cabernet reserve, which is one of our best," Anderson added.
Our next stop takes us to just outside of New Deal to Pheasant Ridge, a traditional winery. "We have a tradition wine making process. We handpicked all of our grapes we don't use any machinery in the harvesting part of it," Officer Manger Rachel Fanning said.
Pheasant Ridge Winery was started in 1979. Fanning says only grapes grown here on these 35 arches are used to make their wines. "The soil is perfect. The elevation is perfect. We're very similar to the climate in the Bordeaux region in France which is why we make really great wines," Fanning said.
Each year about 1,000 cases of wine are bottled in this machine. Fanning says out of the six wines bottled, their reds are the most popular. "This is my favorite. It's a Proprietors Reserve. It's a bold blend. You're still going to get the nice berries out of it," Fanning explained.
Located in downtown Lubbock this is place you don't expect to find a winery. However, McPherson Cellars is set to soon open in this old building and NewsChannel 11 got a sneak peak at you can expect to see. "We're going to have the temporary tasting room here. Then you have the crush pads our here," President and Owner Kim McPherson said.
Once a Coca-Cola bottling plant, McPherson says he plans to turn this building into a winery, complete with a tasting room and reception area." We have a full-blown winery. We will probably do 250 tons," McPherson added.
Still under construction, McPherson says he hopes to have the winery and tasting room open in the next couple of months. If you were wondering about another downtown winery, La Diosa, McPherson also happens to be their winemaker.