by Fred McMillin
for July 11, 1997
Prologue: "Llano Estacado was named after the 1540 Spanish expedition by explorer Francisco Coronado when he drove stakes as markers higher than the native Buffalo grass in order to find his way back from his search for gold."
--from Prof. John Baxevanis' "Wine Regions of America"
As to those fine vines, the winery's first vines were hardly that exotic. Texas Tech Professor Bob Reed came across some vines uprooted for highway construction. He took them home and planted them in his patio. Yields were high, quality was promising, and fellow Professor Clint McPherson was making experimental wine in chemistry classes. In 1977 the professors released their first 1,300 cases of Llano Estacado wine.
Nine years later the breakthrough came when the Llano Chardonnay won a rare 'DOUBLE GOLD at the San Francisco Fair. Today, the professors have been replaced by hands-on owner Walter Hainmann. Greg Bruni has that production up to 70,000 cases, and is on schedule to hit 125,000 in a few years.
Just the Facts
Postscript: It's hardly suprising that the vine is alive and well in Texas. Prof. Baxevanis tells us that half of the world's known grape species grow in that state!
Read more articles by Fred McMillin in the eGGsf
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