Reach for the Niche: Black Spanish Texas Wines are Calling

Learn more about the history and current use of the Black Spanish grape in the production of Texas Wine.

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In Texas, some of the oldest grape varieties used for winemaking include the Black Spanish (also known as Lenoir), the Mission grape, and Blanc du Bois. These grapes have a long history in the region. In this post we will learn more about the Black Spanish grape and related wines.

The Black Spanish (Lenoir) grape has historical roots in America, particularly in the southern regions, including Texas. It’s known for its resilience to disease and harsh climates, making it a longstanding choice for winemaking in areas prone to viticultural challenges such as those found in Texas. . Its origins are somewhat murky, with some evidence suggesting that it was introduced to the region by Spanish missionaries in the 17th century. The grape has shown remarkable resilience to the harsh Texas climate and diseases, particularly Pierce’s Disease, which devastates many other varieties.

Growing the Black Spanish grape in Texas requires understanding its unique preferences and challenges. This grape thrives in well-drained, sandy soils which are prevalent in many parts of Texas. It is a vigorous vine, often requiring careful canopy management to ensure adequate sun exposure and air circulation around the grape clusters.

Black Spanish wines are not common, as most wine growers moved away from the grape for more popular and well-known grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay. This is a challenge for the Texas wine industry, as there are other grapes popular in Texas winemaking but not worldwide; for example, Mourvèdre.

The economic impact of the Black Spanish grape in Texas is significant, as it offers a reliable option for growers in areas prone to disease and extreme weather. Moreover, its ecological benefits include reduced need for chemical interventions, thanks to its natural disease resistance, making it a favorite among organic and biodynamic vineyards.

You won’t find a large number of wineries in Texas using Black Spanish grapes for their wines, but there are a few that I have mentioned below. If you are in the area or want to order some from one of the wineries, you can get a taste of Texas viniculture to round out your knowledge of Texas wine.

Dry Comal Creek Vineyards, 2022 Alegria, 96% Cinsault, 4% Black Spanish. This is a summertime rose’ wine.

Cannon Creek Vineyards, 2020 Black Spanish/Lenoir (Dry) and 2022 Black Spanish/Lenoir (Semi-Sweet), and 2022 Black Spanish/Lenoir (Sweet, port-style)

Val Verde Winery, 2022 Dry Rosé, Blend #18 Don Luis Tawny Port

Texas South Wind Vineyard and Winery, Estate Black Spanish, “Peppery, Bold, Smooth”, Coming Spring 2024

About the Author

A native of Texas, Ken “Texan” Pierce is a renowned alcohol aficionado with decades of experience in the Texas wine, whiskey, and beer industry. With a vast number of alcohol production resources right in his back yard in the Texas Hill Country, Ken has made it his mission to promote and advance the Texas winemaking, distilling, and brewing industry across the country.  Ken holds certifications from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) for wine and is a Certified Texas Wine Ambassador. His ability to identify tasting notes and pairings makes him a respected authority within alcohol enthusiast circles. When he’s not reviewing the latest craft spirits, you can find Ken playing his guitar, trying to sing, and sipping on a Texas libation.

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