Llano began as the passion of a group of Texas investors, including a Texas Tech horticulturist and chemist who believed West Texas held the potential to become a source of quality wine grapes. In the early years after the winery's founding the main difficulty was convincing local farmers to invest in vineyards. To convince the local farmers to simply experiment, Llano Estacado's original winemaking facility was constructed. The construction of the new winery worked to encourage new grape growers, and vineyards began to dot the Texas High Plains. Llano Estacado planted its first vineyard in 1978.
The early 1980s were a period of expansion and experimentation at the winery. In 1980 production had quadrupled to 6,000 cases. In 1983 Llano Estacado replaced all its equipment installing state-of-the-art tanks, crushers and other equipment in order to continue to expand and make better wines. As Llano produced more and more wines, word got out around the state that a small, upstart winery in West Texas was producing quality wine. Texans took to the venture. By 1985 production had increased to 15,000 cases.
It was also in 1985 that Walter M. Haimann arrived at Llano Estacado. A former President of Seagram Distillers Company, Haimann would help steer the winery to entirely new heights.
It was in 1986 however that Llano made a real mark on the American wine scene when it walked away from the prestigious San Francisco Fair Wine Competition with a Double Gold award for its 1984 Chardonnay.
Between 1985 and 1993 Llano continued to increase production, quality and its visibility in the wine industry. Llano's leadership in the development of the Texas wine industry resulted in other wineries being founded. All the while however, Llano Estacado continued to win awards and accolades across the country and in Europe. With the high quality of wines and awards, Haimann struck out developing an extensive distribution system across the United States, bringing Texas wine to Texans and others everywhere. By 1993 Llano Estacado had increased its production to over 50,000 cases of wine.
The mid-1990s would mark Llano's second great leap. In 1993, Haimann, now president of the winery, convinced Greg Bruni to relocate to Lubbock, Texas and take over winemaking responsibilities as Vice President of Winemaking. Bruni, an experienced and award-winning California winemaker, jumped at the opportunity to work in an industry which he believed was on the verge of becoming a national force. The next year, Haimann brought Mark Hyman to Llano Estacado to become Vice President of Sales and Marketing. The most professional management team in the Texas wine industry had been assembled and plans began to further step-up quality and production.
In a period of three years, Llano Estacado further redefined itself and the Texas wine industry. Llano Estacado was instrumental in convincing top California Grower Dale Hampton to plant Texas Vineyards. Llano Estacado expanded its team of growers and Bruni began working closely with them, helping to expand production and quality, including the planting of the winery's own experimental vineyard. In 1997 Llano embarked on an ambitious project to expand the winery to accommodate production of 125,000 cases. The excitement of this latest evolution of Llano Estacado is best exemplified in the introduction of "Viviano," the finest wine ever produced at the winery and the State's first ultra-premium wine.
The future? More of the same...continue to lead the industry and demonstrate that Texas is a wine growing region of the first order. View all Llano Winery Wines
About Other Washington
A few other appellations in Washington include:
Puget Sound, which grows some lesser-known grapes like Muller-Thurgau and Madeleine Angevine, is less known for quality wines and better liked for being a tourist attraction.
Red Mountainsub-appellation runs along the eastern part of Yakima Valley. It's best for red varietals and is constantly growing in quality and popularity.
About Other USEvery state in the United States makes wine. That's not to say that every wine is good, nor is every wine made from grapes. Hawaii ferments pineapples, while Connecticut makes wines from their well-known berry farms. But almost every state has at least one vineyard trying to make wine from grapes. Those who are most successful, beyond California, Washington, Oregon and New York are:
VirginiaWine in Virginia has come a long way since Thomas Jefferson unsuccessfully planted vinifera grapes at his home in Monticello. Our third president, known as the first American wine connoisseur, spent a good amount of time touring vineyards in France, hoping he could replicate the vineyards in Virginia. May not have been successful 200 years ago, but today, the Commonwealth of Virginia is home to over 150 wineries.
Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon are the most widely planted white and red grapes. Other success stories include Cabernet Franc, which does very well on Virginia soil, producing wines that are ripe and round, snuffing out the vegetal tendencies of this varietal. Viognier may be the next big white, making some lovely aromatic, yet dry, white wines.
New MexicoChampagne region after all), Gruet is now a nationally recognized wine. The wines are delicious and one of the best deals in sparkling wine. The family makes a range of wines - from the ethereal and efferevesant blanc de blancs to the more full-bodied blanc-de-noir to the slightly sweet demi-sec.
New Mexico is now home to nineteen wineries. While none are as large as Gruet, more winemakers are realizing that the warm day and cool night combination in the state has great potential for great wine.Other states worth trying include North Carolina, Texas, Ohio, Idaho and Michigan.