Texas Winery Offers Appealing Selection
Ste. Genevieve Wines & Dines Texas Baby-Boomers
The wide open spaces of West Texas inspire images from the film Giant, where oil tycoons and dusty cattle roam the hot desert. Today this area hosts 1,000 acres of the grapevines and bottling facilities of a first class winery, remotely located about 26 miles away from the town of Fort Stockton, Texas.
The Ste. Genevieve winery has enjoyed explosive growth since 1990, and each year gets better. It is already Texas's largest winery and grape producer. With distribution around the state, Ste. Genevieve is successfully reaching new winedrinkers, keeping its production at full capacity.
In 1836, the Texas Constitution set aside vast areas of unsettled land, in order to fund a world-class university system. Much of the money used by the University of Texas system and the Texas A&M system of schools is drawn from the this account, called the Permanent Land Fund. Ste. Genevieve leases this set-aside land.
Texas traditionally seems an inappropriate place for winemaking. In reality the hot climate works well for growing grapes, despite the fact that it is one of the most unlikely areas to possess such a French sounding name. The result is Texas horticulturists combined with the expertise of French winemaking.
A spokesperson for the winery explained that the wine industry moves along a growth curve. Wineries in Texas, which began producing in the 1980's have greatly matured, so "if you tasted Texas wine five or six years ago, try it again." As grape vines mature, they produce better grapes, and, consequently, finer wine.
St. Genevieve Target Markets
Austin attorney and wine aficionado Steve Tompkins explains why Ste. Genevieve wines continue to grow in popularity: "The vineyards have existed long enough to develop distinctive tastes which the vintners have taken advantage of in their production technique."
Although, consumers are attracted to not only the taste, but also the low prices. Kelton Dillard, an accountant living in Austin, explains why he buys Ste. Genevieve: "They're very good wines, and they're cheap." Dillard represents exactly the target market Ste. Genevieve is persuing. They want middle-aged, Baby Boomers, who have grown tired of sugary soft drinks or beer. Instead more are reaching for a bottle of Texas Red.
In order to sell their wines, wineries must overcome the attitude many Americans have towards wine. Wineries are working to dispel the mystique in wine drinking. To overcome objections, Ste. Genevieve wines tend to be priced comparatively low. They simplify consumer choices by marketing wine brands, without a year.
Recent news regarding the health benefits of red wine has helped wineries, including Ste. Genevieve. The winery produces at full capacity, and distributes just in Texas. Their standard red wines include Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and a table wine called Texas Red.
Their wines universally receive a great reception. The winery's most decorated wine is the Sauvignon Blanc, a light, dry, white wine. The Ste. Genevieve Chardonnay continues to be one of their most popular.
Tompkins finds their wines fit all occasions. He explains, "The Ste. Genevieve label provides wines which range from casual table wines to those that can accompany fine meals, all at a good value."
The winery has expanded their line to include other interesting wines. One wine, slightly more difficult to locate, is their Fume Blanc, which tastes like a smoky Sauvignon Blanc. In March, 1997, the winery will add another wine to their portfolio - a Red Zinfandel.
The winery also imports and bottles a French wine named Lorval. It is available as a Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot. and Syrrah.
Tours In March
Every March, the Fort Stockton Chamber of Commerce hosts guided tours through the winery. Visitors can see the entire winemaking process. Regular tours are on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Anyone interested must call ahead to reserve a time. The phone number for the Ft. Stockton Chamber of Commerce is 915-336-8052.
A spokesperson for the winery surmised that many people purchase their wines because of the price, and don't even realize it is a Texas wine. By successfully reaching out to new consumers, who have never before considered wine as a beverage, Texas wines appear to have a happy future. As their vines continue to mature, Ste. Genevieve is poised to continue satisfying the tastes of the growing market of Texas winedrinkers.
For more information, visit their website at: www.stegenwines.com
There are many interesting wine tours and festivals happening around the state. See Texas Food & Wine Festivals.