Haak Green Label Blanc du Bois ($15) Texas

This month marks the fourth annual DrinkLocalWine conference, which is being held in Denver and focusing on Colorado wine. We held the first DLW event, featuring Texas wine, in Dallas four years ago, and no one knew what would happen next.

What has happened is that local wine has grown almost exponentially since then, and Texas has been in the forefront of that growth. The state has 225 wineries, about three times as many as just 10 years ago (and the number of wineries in the states that aren’t California, Oregon and Washington has increased by almost one-half since 2005). Local wine has become more a part of the local food movement than ever before; U.S. chefs, according to a National Restaurant Association survey, pointed to local wine as a top-10 menu trend for two consecutive years.

And quality is better than ever before. A Texas viognier won a gold medal at the prestigious San Francisco Chronicle wine competition this year, and the state’s entries turned in one of their best ever showings at the annual Dallas Morning News-TexSom competition.

In fact, one of the few remaining obstacles facing Texas wine is that too many consumers know it’s not any good — even though they’ve never tasted it. So, this month, some Texas wines to try, especially if you’ve never tried any before:

Haak Green Label Blanc du Bois ($15). Don’t worry if you haven’t heard of this grape; it makes fine wine anyway. Look for citrus flavors and a crisp, clean finish — this is a bone-dry white that pairs with grilled and boiled seafood.

McPherson Cellars La Herencia ($14). This red blend features tempranillo, a Spanish grape that looks like it will do quite well in Texas. It’s a little funky on the aroma, which is a good thing, and has cherry fruit. It’s a beef and lamb wine.

William+Chris Enchante ($42). Not the best name in the world, but a red blend made with more familiar grapes like merlot from a small Hill Country producer that gets good reviews. It’s rich and full, and makes a nice gift for red wine drinkers.

With your wine

Basic vegetable soup

This isn’t much more difficult than opening a can, and it tastes so much better. The ingredients are just suggestions; other than the leek, which gives amazing flavor, you can use pretty much anything in the refrigerator, including chopped mushrooms, shredded cabbage and torn lettuce leaves. Serve with the Texas wine of your choice — a light red or white would do the trick.

Grocery List
6 c water
1 large leek, cleaned and trimmed, and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 onions, chopped
2 medium carrots, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1/2 c small pasta, such as thin soup noodles
salt and pepper to taste
1 bay leaf

1. Add the water and vegetables, salt, pepper and bay leaf, and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes or so, until the leek is tender.
2. Bring to a boil, add the noodles and cook until the noodles are tender.
3. Remove the bay leaf, correct seasoning and serve.

Serves 4, takes 45 minutes

Ask the wine guy

How many states produce wine?
All 50 — even Alaska (mostly fruit wines with locally grown fruit) and Hawaii, including pineapple wine.

Ask the Wine Guy taste@advocatemag.com