The Texas High Plains is the second largest AVA in Texas, comprising roughly 8 million acres in west Texas, mostly south of the Panhandle region. As the name indicates, this AVA lies within the High Plains sub region of the Great Plains in the central United States. The eastern border of the Texas High Plains AVA follows the 3,000 ft elevation contour line along the Caprock Escarpment, the steep transitional zone separating the High Plains from the lower plains to the east. Elevation within the Texas High Plains gradually increases from 3,000 ft at the edge of the Caprock Escarpment to about 4,100 ft in the northwest portion of the AVA. Grapes and wine have been produced in this region since the mid-1970’s and vineyards here have become a major grape supplier to wineries throughout the state.
The Texas High Plains AVA is located on a huge high plateau, the height of which ranges from 2,800 to 4,000 feet above sea level. This positioning provides an environment of long, hot dry summer days, which allow the grapes to mature and ripen to proper sugar levels, and cool evenings, which help set the grape’s acid levels. Currently, this region has over 3,700 planted acres. There are over 75 Wine Grape Varieties planted in the High Plains AVA, including popular favorites like: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Chenin Blanc, Gewurztraminer, Grenache, Merlot, Malbec, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling, Orange Muscat as well as newcomers like; Dolcetto, Montepulciano, Primitivo, Sangiovese, Tempranillo and Viognier.
The Texas High Plains contains 31 soil associations, five of which comprise 75% of the acreage in the region: Pullman-Randall-Lofton (22.8%), Amarillo-Acuff-Olton (19.5%), Patricia-Amarillo-Gomez (15.5%), Olton-Acuff-Amarillo (9.5%), and Pullman-Olton-Randall (7.7%). The second and third most prevalent associations are sandy clay loams that are very well suited to grape production.
The Amarillo-Acuff-Olton association covers more than 1.7 million acres, primarily in the west-central portion of the AVA. It is deep with a sandy loam texture from 0 to 30 cm (0-12 in) depth, transitioning into a sandy clay loam from 30 to 200 cm (12 to 79 in). Permeability rate in the upper 30 cm averages about 8.5 cm/hr (3.3 in/hr); within the sandy clay loam permeability is approximately 3.2 cm/hr (1.3 in/hr). Soil pH increases with depth; the sandy loam portion is approximately 7.3, while the sandy clay loam ranges from 7.9 to 8.1. Available water capacity at depths of 0-100, 100-150, and 150-250 cm (0-39, 39-59, 59-98 in) is 15, 22, and 28 cm (5.9, 8.7, 11.0 in), respectively.
The Patricia-Amarillo-Gomez association predominates in the southern portion of the AVA. This deep soil has a texture of sand from 0-40 cm (0-16 in) depth and sandy clay loam from 40-200 cm (16-79 in). Permeability within the sand is rapid (21-24 cm/hr; 8.3-9.4 in/hr), and slower in the sandy clay loam, from 3.5 to 6.5 cm/hr (1.4-2.6 in/hr). The pH ranges from 7.2 to 7.8, increasing with depth, and available water capacity is 12, 19, and 26 cm (4.7, 7.5, 10.2 in) at depths of 0-100, 100-150, and 150-250 cm (0-39, 39-59, 59-98 in) respectively.
The Texas High Plains AVA is an American Viticultural Area located in the Texas panhandle.The appellation is the second largest American Viticultural Area in Texas, and covers an area of over 8,000,000 acres. Most of the vineyards are on flat terrain at elevations between 3,000 feet and 4,000 feet above sea level. The Texas plains can be very dry, so most vineyards are irrigated with water from the Ogallala Aquifer.