Great Whites of Texas

Red and rosé wines often steal the headlines in Texas, but there’s a growing number of Texas white wines winning praise and awards in competitions across the state and around the world. For example, Pedernales Cellars produces what is arguably the most lauded Texas white. Their viognier, a varietal common in the Rhône Valley of Southern France, has received gold and double-gold medals not only in the United States, but also in the Lyon International Competition, where the 2012 Viognier Reserve won a Grand Gold. “We want our viognier to be the full, unmoderated expression of the grape,” says Pedernales Cellars winemaker David Kuhlken. “This means big, ripe tropical fruit, honeysuckle and peach. We hang the fruit out to get maximum ripeness and look to accentuate those big notes in our style.”

Also, Duchman Family Winery has had early and continued success with the Vermentino grape that originated from Sardinia, Italy. This varietal creates a bright, crisp wine perfect for Texas’ steamy summers, and thrives well in our tumultuous weather. “The beautiful thing about Vermentino is the consistency,” says Duchman winemaker Dave Reilly. “We’ve had drought, we’ve had freezes, we’ve had floods and we’ve had big crops and small crops, and we’ve always been able to produce a consistent, high-quality wine.”

And, Hilmy Cellars’ 2016 albariño, a grape from Spain and Portugal, won the top honors for a Texas white at the 2018 TEXSOM International Wine Awards. This year’s competition results included a lengthy list of awards for Texas white wines made from viognier, roussanne, Vermentino and other grapes that originate across the Mediterranean, such as marsanne, picpoul blanc and trebbiano.

Other winemakers turn to blends as an alternative—selecting the best of their crop to produce an outstanding white. Blending the grapes means the winery is less reliant on one varietal and can avoid missing a vintage if the vines suffer from early frost, hail or rain damage. Brennan Vineyards’ Lily is edging up on almost a decade of accolades. The blend typically includes roussanne, a grape popular in France’s Rhône region, mixed with other grapes to bring out the best in the wine based on that year’s harvest. While the highly praised 2016 Lily was 100 percent roussanne, the much-awarded 2015 Lily included only 29 percent roussanne combined with Muscat of Alexandria and viognier. The just-bottled 2017 is 52 percent roussanne and 48 percent malvasia bianca.

Whether producing single varietals or blends, Texas winemakers continue to explore the white grapes that thrive best in Texas’ unpredictable growing environments. While these varietal names may be unfamiliar today, they’re likely to be among your favorites in the not-too-distant future.

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Guide to the Grapes

Grape Origin Varietal Similar
in Style
Recent Vintages of
Texas Award Winner
albariño Spain & Portugal pinot grigio


chenin blanc
dry riesling
Hilmy Cellars Albariño 2016
blanc du bois Florida albariño to chardonnay,
depending on the
winemakers' style
Haak Vineyards & Winery
Blanc Du Bois 2017
chenin blanc Loire Valley & South Africa albariño

picpoul blanc

Chablis
McPherson Cellars Old Vine
Chenin Blanc 2015

Lewis Wines Texas High Plains
Chenin Blanc 2016
marsanne Southern Rhône chardonnay

trebbiano

viognier
Wedding Oak Winery Texas
Hill Country Marsanne 2016
picpoul blanc Languedoc pinot grigio

Chablis

sauvignon blanc
Lost Draw Cellars Texas High
Plains Picpoul Blanc 2016
roussanne Southern Rhône chardonnay

viognier
Brennan Vineyards Lily 2016

Kuhlman Cellars Texas High
Plains Roussanne 2017

Lost Draw Cellars Roussanne 2016
trebbiano Italy chardonnay

marsanne

viognier
Duchman Family Winery Texas
Trebbiano 2016
Vermentino....          Sardinia sauvignon blanc

grüner veltliner
Duchman Family Winery Bingham
Family Vineyard Vermentino 2016
viognier Southern Rhône chardonnay

marsanne
Becker Vineyards Viognier 2016

Brennan Vineyards Viognier 2016

Hilmy Cellars Viognier 2015

McPherson Cellars Viognier 2016

Pedernales Cellars Viognier Reserve 2016

Ron Yates Texas Hill Country Viognier 2016

Spicewoods Vineyards Viognier 2016

By Kristi Willis • Photography by Jenna Northcutt