The Dish with Deah: Cheers to Texas wineries. Here’s where to get a local taste

Deah Berry Mitchell | Fort Worth Report

How often do you think of Texas when you think of a good bottle of wine? If you do, you most likely imagine the Texas Hill Country, with its picturesque landscapes and countless wineries.

What you might not know is that Val Verde Winery, situated on the border in Del Rio, holds the distinction of being the longest-running winery in the state. Established in 1883 by Francesco “Frank” Qualia, the winery has remained under the stewardship of the Qualia family for three consecutive generations.

Frank Qualia’s decision to start the winery was inspired by the area’s flourishing Black Spanish, or Lenoir, grapes. Louis Qualia, his son, is recognized for introducing to Texas the French origin Herbemont grape, a variety that remains integral to the winemaking process in Del Rio.

Closer to home, Cowtown Winery — located in the Fort Worth Stockyards — is credited as being the oldest in Tarrant County, opening in early 2008. Today, wineries in the county and surrounding areas stand as a testament to the perseverance of those who dared to center Texas at the forefront of winemaking despite challenges that can deter growers including a sometimes fickle climate.

I pondered this seemingly unusual pairing of North Texas and wines recently at a supper club event hosted by local Lil Boy Blue BBQ, which I wrote about recently. At that dinner, a new company, 94 Pours, offered a custom experience by pairing crisp wines with delicious soul food items — all the while educating diners on the unique flavor profiles and why they enhanced the depth and complexities of various foods.

Braxton Reeves and Jordan Kennard, former high school basketball teammates, have reunited as co-owners of 94 Pours. Their shared love for wine and the rekindling of their friendship during the pandemic inspired a mutual vision to address a gap in the wine industry. Hailing from Texas, these entrepreneurs aspire to enhance awareness, accessibility and overall appreciation of the wine world across diverse communities. They also aim to make a lasting impact in the industry and encourage others to delve into the tantalizing realm of wine.

Whether you’re an expert or novice wine enthusiast, you can explore vineyards in North Texas, and learn to appreciate the diverse offerings, from Spanish-inspired Tempranillos to robust Cabernets.

With the Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival a six short weeks away — and The Main Event, an opportunity for tasting vintages perhaps new to you — we thought it would be fitting to highlight a few wines produced in our backyard. Venture out of your usual “safe space” and discover other wines you should be enjoying at wineries or wine-tasting venues located in or near Tarrant County:

  • 199 Winery, 8601 Jacksboro Highway, Lakeside
  • Bingham Family Vineyards Grapevine, 620 S. Main St., Grapevine
  • Cadillac Wines, 3500 W. Loop 820 S. Fort Worth
  • Casual Friday Wines, 10238 Farm Road 1886, Azle
  • Cowtown Winery, Fort Worth Stockyards, 128 E. Exchange Ave., Suite 610, Fort Worth
  • Dove Ridge Winery, 6060 Tucker Dr., Weatherford
  • Lost Oak Winery, 8101 County Road 802, Burleson
  • Sloan & Williams Winery, 401 S. Main St. Grapevine
  • Two Brothers Winery, 110 Lamar St., Keller

2024 Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival updates
The festival of the Fort Worth Food + Wine Foundation runs April 4-7 at Heart of the Ranch at Clearfork.
Note that Early Entry Tickets for all events except Ring of Fire are now sold out.
‘The Weekender’ pass, which bundles the signature events, still offers early entry and VIP access, but is close to selling out.
A limited number of ‘The Kit’ tickets, which offer discounted general admission access to all five signature events, are available.
At ‘The Main Event,’ look for wineries new to you as well as your favorites for opportunities to sample some delicious varieties. It’s a great way to venture out of your usual “safe” space and learn about wines you might want to spend more time exploring.