The Geology and Wine of Texas
April 21, 2017
Petroleum Club of Shreveport, 16th Floor
Reception – 6:30 p.m.
Presentations & Dinner – 7 p.m.
Kevin Hill, geophysicist
and featured guests
Paul and Merrill Bonarrigo
Messina Hof Winery
winemakers and founders
Fine Texas wines and cuisine – $85 per person
Seating is limited to the first 100 paid reservations
Tables of 8 are available
The Ninth Annual Geology and Wine Dinner is now SOLD OUT.
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Founders of Messina Hof, Paul & Merrill Bonarrigo, married and settled in Bryan, Texas and together would re-introduce the concept of winemaking in Texas. The Bonarrigo family began making wine in the 1800s in Sicily. Paul & Merrill planted their first vineyard in 1977 and named it Messina Hof, after their family origins of Messina, Sicily and Hof, Germany. The Bonarrigos became pioneers of the Texas wine industry having established Messina Hof as the 4th winery in the state.
Kevin Hill is a consulting geophysicist with a degree in Geology from LSU. He has been in the oil business for over 40 years, and president of Hill Geophysical Consulting for more than 30 years.
Kevin’s hobby is studying geology around the globe. He explores how the subsurface influences everyday life through agricultural systems that produce food and wine.
He has shared the fruit of his research with the Shreveport Geological Society in an annual dinner meeting for eight years. The first of these presentations was “How Geology Influences Burgundy Wines.” Kevin has also presented talks on the geology and wine of Australia, Italy, Spain, Oregon, Israel, and California.
Texas covers 268,597 square miles. Almost the entire geologic column is exposed at some point in the vast state. 1.35 billion year old Pre-Cambrian rocks at the Llano Uplift quickly give way to Mesozoic and Cenozoic rocks to the south and east. To the west, Paleozoic, Mesozoic and Cenozoic rocks are found. The map above shows the vegetation cover types in Texas, not the surface rock outcrops. Of course, it is easy to see the vegetation is related to the geology. If a geology of wine regions of Texas talk isn’t enough, we will have a five-course meal accompanied by Messina Hof wines.
Franciscan priests planted Mission vines in the 1650s near what is now El Paso. This is before grapes were planted in California. German soil geologists travelled to Texas in the early 1800s to map the soil types so German immigrants could select the best places to live and farm. Texas vine stocks were hybridized into hundreds of different types in the late 1800s by horticulturist Thomas Munson. These vines were resistant to Phylloxera, a vine infestation wiping out French vineyards. The Texas vine stock saved the French wine industry from total ruin. Prohibition (1920-1933) eliminated the Texas wine industry. In the 1970s Llano Estacodo, Pheasant Ridge, La Buena Vida and Messina Hof wineries started up to explore the opportunities of making wines again in Texas.
The geology of the three main wine growing regions and eight appellations with their microclimates will be discussed. Geology clearly influences what can be grown economically in an area. Geology also greatly influences the quality and flavor of the grapes.
Paul and Merrill Bonarrigo, along with Kevin and Mary Virginia Hill, selected nine different wines from Messina Hof’s deep portfolio. Only Private Reserve wines will be poured. The all-Texas evening will begin with sparkling wine and Texas Haute Goat (Longview) cheese hors d’oeuvres. Two exciting white wines will be shown with Texas seafood. Next will be two vibrant reds to enhance Texas fowl. Big, brooding reds will accompany Texas Hill Country meat. Dessert will be paired with two of Messina Hof’s exciting ports.