By Sylvia Gonzalez
FORT STOCKTON - Ste. Genevive Winery a West Texas treasure that very few know about.
It is the largest winery in the State of Texas. What began as an experimental vineyard is now considered the largest vineyard in the Lone Star State, it is ranked 25th in the nation.
Ste. Genevieve Winery is located about 26 miles east of Fort Stockton.
"It was pretty challenging like we use to say, "its not a job, it's an adventure" and it was an adventure actually, a great adventure because now we are first winery, largest winery, in the State of Texas. Pretty impressive compared to what we were in 1984," Executive Manager, Jean-Michel Duforat, said.
Between 1981 and 1984, vines were planted on 1,000 acres of land. After all these years, the biggest question still looms: Why even plant a vineyard in West Texas? Well, according to Duforat, this particular area in West Texas has all the components to make a perfect wine.
"The probabilities of freeze was very low. The climate is not ideal but we have a lot of sunshine here as you know and alot of water underground so I think that was a probably the main factor that made them decide to have it right here," Duforat said.
Duforat was not even 25 years old when he made the move from his beloved France to Fort Stockton, Texas. Even he admits that he never thought a vineyard would survive the harsh West Texas weather. But he was soon impressed by how quickly the plants adapted to the West Texas climate.
"It was surprising as a French person coming from a border area, where you have vineyards all around the place, to be here in the middle of nowhere and having a 1,000 acre vineyard and building a winery here, that's very impressive to me and surprising," Duforat said.
Duforat says there are some differences between the vineyards in his home country of France and the one at St. Genevieve. For starters, he says the vines here are similar to small trees and there's more.
"The production is actually smaller on the vine in France then it is on a vine here in West Texas. But overall France is producing more tonnage per acre."
Duforat told NewsWest 9 how much wine is produced at Ste. Genevieve's.
"On a daily basis, we have two production lines. One which we do only the 1.5 liters, which is called the "Magnum" and we do about 4 ,000 cases and that a case of six bottles," Duforat said.
However, the production doesn't stop there.