We're taking a closer look at a dirty job in Texoma that has become one of the state's thriving industries.
Wine making may not sound like a dirty job, but we all know wine stains everything.
So imagine what it takes to get a bottle to the dinner table.
We found out when we took a trip to the Brushy Creek Vineyard.
"You have to come prepared to get bitten by ants. Stung by mosquitoes
and other bugs. Step in mud. Step in guck. Wine goop all over you. Hair all a mess. It's a sticky, dirty, messy, job," said Cyndi Stutts.
Cyndi is talking about what happens every year in August at the Brushy Creek Vineyard just south of Bowie. Picking grapes and then breaking them down to make wine is not something for the faint hearted. We also learned it's a little dangerous. Winemaker Rachel Cook clued us in. "We use pretty sharp scissors when we're picking so a lot of people get cut. We've seen probably a few fingers, ummm, disappear." Cook said, "Lots of blood, sweat, and tears go into this."
That all sounds pretty sticky and nasty but after harvesting those grapes, you still have to make the wine. We found out first hand it can be a little harrowing fitting all that liquid into a barrel. What's left behind has to be cleaned up.
"If you're not on top of the job, wine can go everywhere. I've had it in
my hair. I've had it everywhere. I've bathed in wine a few times," said Rachel Cook.
It seems over the last decade more and more people are experiencing this "dirty job" And, it's no wonder as to why.
The grapes on the vines in Texas will bring in $1.2 billion to the state this year. Nine years ago it was only about $100 million. So why it has been so successful especially in North Texas? The answer lies right beneath our feet.
Rachel Cook told us, "This area, the "Cross Timbers Area, the Red River Area is a very good place to grow grape. We have very nice sandy loam soil, and so grape growing has come pretty easy to us. I mean it's not easy at all, but the grapes do like the soil that we have here. It's well drained so they usually do very well."
Another reason that may have helped the cork pop on this industry in Texas was a decision by lawmakers two legislative sessions ago.
"In 2005 we had a law passed where you can have a winery in dry and wet counties now in the state of Texas. Since then we've moved from about 30 wineries to all the way up to about 237 wineries so we've gained 200 wineries just in the last six years." said Cook.
Fine wine connoisseurs will tell you that Napa Valley still has the edge. But, they had better look out.
Cyndi Stutts said, "Texans are finally coming into their own in the wine industry you know? They've had the vineyards growing. They've started making the wine. They're perfecting their skills, and it's all happening and it's making a great product."
Cook told us, "We hope that in the future we can do more of the Spanish varieties and show that not only California can make a good wine but that Texas is right behind them."