Texas wine has never been more popular or of better quality.

So what’s the Legislature about to do? Eliminate the state’s funding for wine research and marketing as it attempts to solve a $27 billion budget deficit.

The savings? About $3 a Texan a year for the next two years, which won’t make much of dent in the deficit.

It will, however, seriously damage the progress Texas wine has made over the past several decades. Texas wine is not some effete pastime enjoyed by a bunch of outsiders who don’t like to drink Lone Star and eat chicken fried. It’s Big Bidness.

Texas wine sales increased 6 percent in 2010, with consumers buying almost 240,000 cases of Texas wine from grocery and liquor stores, according to the Nielsen survey company. Texas wine outsold Argentine and Chilean wine — combined — in the state in 2010, reported Nielsen, and four Texas wineries were among the top 100 brands in the state.

So buy a bottle of Texas wine, toast the Legislature, and hope it does the right thing:

• Becker Vineyards Viognier ($15). This is the best-selling viognier in Texas, outselling viogniers from California and France. Which is exactly the point of the $3 a person tax, since it pays for the research necessary to find out if a grape like viognier will make quality wine here.

• McPherson Cellars Rosé of Syrah ($10). Yes, I always recommend this wine. And why not? It’s cheap and well-made, and, though pink, manly enough for any member of the Legislature.

• Llano Estacado Chardonnay ($13). Texas chardonnay has always confused me. But if Texas is going to make chardonnay, this is a good start — unoaked, with lots of tropical fruit and balance.


Ask the wine Guy?

How many wineries are there in Texas?
220 — a 300 percent increase since 2000. Texas is the fourth biggest wine consuming state in the country, and the fifth biggest producer.


With Your Wine

Pot-roasted pork loin
Pork gets short shrift as a roast, which is too bad. It can produce wonderful results. Serve this to celebrate the last cold day of this unending winter, and a Texas wine like the Becker viognier would be a great pairing.

Serves 4-6, takes 3 to 3 1/2 hours

  • 4 lb boneless pork loin
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp carraway seeds
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 6 carrots
  • 1/2 head cabbage, sliced
  • 1 c mixed dried fruit
  • 2-3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • salt, pepper and red pepper to taste
  • 1/4 tsp dried sage
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 bottle fruity red wine
  • Also may need: olive oil, rice or noodles

1. Preheat the oven to 325. Season the loin with salt and pepper, and brown on all sides in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a large Dutch oven or oven-proof casserole dish. Remove the loin to a plate.

2. Sauté the onions in the Dutch oven until they start to brown. Add the garlic and carraway seeds, and cook for 30 or 40 seconds, until the garlic is fragrant.

3. Slice the carrots lengthwise to produce 3-inch sticks. Add the carrots, cabbage, dried fruit, sage, bay leaves, and salt and pepper, to taste, to the Dutch oven. Add the wine and red wine vinegar, and bring to a boil.

4. Add the loin (with any accumulated juices) to the Dutch oven. Cover and place in the oven for 2 1/2 hours. Check after an hour or so. Flip the roast and add liquid if it seems dry.

5. Remove the loin from the Dutch oven, and cook the liquid down for a few minutes if you want. Thinly slice the pork, and serve in a bowl with rice or noodles, the vegetables and dried fruit, and the liquid.