If you were to drive through West Texas, the last thing that you would expect to find would be vineyards.  The whole area is one big dust bowl, brown and vacant.  The only interruption to the staked plains is the occasional field of cotton.  That is slowly changing.

I have several friends who have farmed in this area for a long time.  Often their crops have been cotton and peanuts.  Recently I have started to see some of them venture out into the wonderful world of grapes.  It's not as if grapes haven't been grown here before now, Llano Estacado Winery has been based in Lubbock since 1976, but there does seem to be a new interest in growing grapes in this area.  With two newer local wineries, Caprock opened in 1992 and McPherson Cellars opened in 2000, the real need is for more grapes to be grown locally to supply the wineries.  Right now Texas wineries have a difficult time getting enough grapes from in state to make true Texas wines.

With the wine trade still being relatively new to Texas, another question is what varietals are best suited to the area.  West Texas is still working on developing it's own terrior.  I have friends who have been having success with Viognier and Tempranillo.  According to an article in Wines & Vines (thanks to @rockplace2be for the link), these two varieties are emerging as two of the most promising, but growers are also trying their hands at Vermentino, Malbec, and Mourvèdre.

It still remains to be seen what varieties will ultimately really take hold in West Texas, but it is exciting to watch as the area establishes it's wine identity.  Hopefully we can look forward to seeing some truly great wines come out of this area soon.