Texas gets new viticultural area

Texas has added a viticultural area to its arsenal: the Texoma American.

It's an area along the Texas-Oklahoma border where horticulturist Thomas Volney Munson began cultivating grapes more than a century ago in what he referred to as a "grape paradise."

The federal government has designated a 3,650-square-mile area of sandy hills sloping to the Red River and Lake Texoma as the viticultural area.

"I don't know if it's 10 years or 20 years or 100 years, but the (region) will fill in and we'll have several thousands of acres of grapes around here," said Gabe Parker, owner of the Homestead Winery in Ivanhoe. "The land is appropriate for it."

The number of wineries in the Texoma area has grown from two to six in the past three years, and there now are 225 acres dedicated to vineyards in the fledgling area.

Texas has 109 wineries statewide, up from just 40 in 2000 to 109 this year, according to the Texas Wine Marketing Research Institute at Texas Tech University. The wineries' output makes Texas the nation's fifth-largest wine producing state.

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