Many people in the Texas wine industry now believe that the wines are good enough to compete on the world stage — to the point that one woman has now created the Texas International Wine Competition.
The inaugural event debuts Nov. 18 and 19, when some of wine’s most esteemed experts will swarm to Austin to taste Texas-made wines alongside offerings from France, Italy, Argentina and other countries, as well as other U.S. states.
“If a Texas winery can take best-in-class — which is like a hole-in-one in golf — for Cabernet Sauvignon at the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition, that tells you the magnitude of talent of Texas winemakers,” the organizer of the Texas competition, Bonnie Villacampa, said. “The vision they had in New York was to bring awareness to the Finger Lakes region there, so I believe that this competition will do the same thing here for the Texas wine industry. I totally believe that.”
She decided to create a competition here after serving as a judge at the Finger Lakes competition for more than 10 years. That event was created 16 years ago, and it has since become one of the foremost authorities on wine around the globe. Last year, more than 3,700 entries from 48 states and 20 countries were judged by 72 professional wine judges from 18 countries, according to the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition.
The Texas International Wine Competition, taking place at the Vine Vault downtown, is starting much more modestly but with an impressive 500 wines slated for the judging, a blind tasting. Villacampa chose the Vine Vault as the location because the company stores the wine collections of local aficionados at optimal temperatures and also has a space for events.
“Something that is really important about this competition is that I wanted the wines to be handled carefully, to rest a little prior to being judged,” Villacampa said. “The biggest problem with this business is heat and wine getting heated up too much. High temperatures just completely cook the wine. That’s why it’s being held at the Vine Vault, where bottles are kept at 55 degrees.”
Like the Finger Lakes competition, the Texas one doubles as a charity fundraiser and will, this year, raise money for Variety’s Peaceable Kingdom Retreat for Children.
Following the competition on Nov. 19 is the 1st Annual Texas International Wine and Food Festival, which she enlisted the Rotary Club of Kyle to help create at the National Hispanic Institute in nearby Maxwell. The evening festival will have award-winning wines, food samples from Central Texas restaurants, live music from the Keith Kelso Band and Doug Moreland, and a live and silent auction. It’s also for a good cause: Proceeds will benefit Hope & Love 4 Kids, a children’s nonprofit that serves Hays County.
The festival is the only part of the weekend opened to the public. To get tickets to the fest, which are $75 per person or $500 for VIP passes per couple, visit txiwff.com.
Winners of the competition will be announced on Nov. 22.