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Texas wine industry is booming
ORANGE - by Lauren Huet
Here's an excuse to have a glass of wine, it's Texas Wine Month. According to the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association, the booming Texas wine industry contributes 1.83 billion dollars to the state of Texas.
Jim Mathews manages his father-in-law's vineyard and winery in Orange, Texas. It's called the Piney Woods Country Winery and Vineyard. Alfred J. Flies, with the help of his son-in-law, Mathews, began planting the vineyard in 1985. They opened for business in 1987.
Mathews said they have seen the wine industry take off in Texas.
"We ship all over the United States, not just in Texas," said Mathews. "In fact, most of our shipping we do out of the state."
Texas is now the fifth largest wine producing state.
"Texas, with the increased amount of wineries and vineyards, has just about caught up, as far as I know, with New York and California in wine production," said Mathews. "The difference is, most Texas wine is consumed by Texans. We'll drink what we can and sell the rest."
When Flies and Mathews started Piney Woods Country Winery in 1987, they were the 14th winery in Texas. Now Texas has more than 270 wineries.
"It has been such a growing industry and I think it's going to continue that way because more and more people are getting into growing," said Mathews.
Mathews and his father-in-law grow white and red Muscadines, a grape that grows wild in Southeast Texas.
"We grow the white which is called Magnolia, and the red which is called Noble-- Noble being a little sweeter," said Mathews. "Most of our wines are made from the red. Most of our wines are very sweet. We do have a couple of dry wines, but from experience, most of the people in this area like sweet wines."
He said Muscadines are unique.
"It's a litle different because Muscadines have a different taste, a very distinctive taste, and a lot of people like that," said Mathews.
A taste that won the Piney Woods Country Winery and Vineyard the award for "Top Texas Wine 2009."
"When you have the awards or the competitions, a lot of people taste them and say, 'Well where does this come from?' And they're amazed," said Mathews. "Amazed, because you know, in Southeast Texas?"
Mathews said when more people discover Muscadine wines, the grapes are going to become more popular.
"I can almost guarantee, you taste them and you're going to like them," said Mathews. "I've had people come in and say, 'I don't like wines at all.' They'll leave with a bottle of wine, because they find something they like, because our wines are different."
Mathews encourages people to have a glass because "it's very healthy."
"They've discovered that red Muscadines are 9 times better for you," Mathews said. "A lot of antioxidants. Keeps your blood flowing, and it's really good for your heart."