Hill Country wineries seeing surge in jobs, tourism and interest

Texas is No. 2 when it comes to wine travel destinations in the U.S.

By Sarah Acosta - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - When we pour a glass of wine, there’s a good chance it was most likely made in California.

However, the Texas Hill Country is starting to become known for having some of the top vineyards in the country, making it a $13 billion dollar industry. 

According to the National Association of American Wineries the over 4,000 acres of wine country in Texas are responsible for more than 104,000 jobs with tourists spending $716 million dollars in the state. 

Evan McKibben, vineyard manager of William Chris Vineyard, said the industry in Hill Country has changed tremendously over the past 15 years. He said there used to be only a handful of farmers who dabbled in the wine game, now there are 350 wineries in Texas, most of them located in the Hill Country.

“We’d meet in barns, get a white table or plastic table with chairs sit around, to where now we are renting out convention centers,” McKibben said.

Instead of having to make trips to California for supplies, local feed stores now cater toward vineyards' needs.

Texas is now the fourth-largest wine producer in the country behind California, Oregon, Washington and New York -- however, Texas is No. 2 when it comes to wine travel destinations in the U.S., right behind Napa, California. 

“We are close to San Antonio and also Austin, so it’s kind of a perfect storm for tourism,” McKibben said.

He believes the reason for the successful growth is that over the past 15 years, Hill Country vineyards have learned what grows well in the sandy soil and climate what doesn’t. 

“We are starting to see rosé are getting big in Texas. So our climate can make a really good rosé that would rival any rosé production,” McKibben said.

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