Cotton, cattle and cabernet: Wineries giving Lubbock area a tourism boost

Published in Houston Chronicle June 22 

In the High Plains of West Texas, trucks drive past cotton fields, leaving behind a billowing cloud of red dust in their wake. The occasional oil rig might dot the landscape, but out here cotton is king. Fields of cotton stretch as far as the eye can see. When the wind picks up, as it often does, white cotton puffs float to barbed-wire fencing, attaching themselves to the edge of the road.

But on an unusually warm May afternoon, with the temperature soaring past 100 degrees, a different crop is budding out on a tiny farm south of Lubbock. With the increase in demand for Texas wines, farms are swapping their fields of low-yielding, water-thirsty cotton for more profitable fields of grapes.

When it comes to great wine destinations, most people imagine the rolling hills of Napa Valley or, if they’re Texan, charming Fredericksburg in the Hill Country. Lubbock— a flat, friendly city of cattle ranchers and cotton farmers who live on the plains of the Llano Estacado, whose harsh conditions made it one of the last places to be settled in America — is not the first place that comes to mind. Read More