Mariani is one of the country's leading food and wine writers, so when he says something, people pay attention. Which means this is a big deal: "I came away impressed with how they have evolved over the past decade."
Mariani attended the 23rd annual Texas Hill Country Wine & Food Festival earlier this month, held in and around Austin. He tasted a variety of Texas wines, and was generally impressed. He singled out McPherson sangiovese, Fall Creek's Cache, a white blend, and Messina Hof's Paolo Shiraz.
One of Texas' long-standing problems with developing the quality of of its wine is that few people outside of the state pay much attention to it. Those that do, especially from the wine magazines, tend to lump Texas into states without a real wine industry. If it's from Texas, their thinking goes, why bother? This deprives Texans of a perspective that isn't Texas-based, something that is sorely needed here.
Say what you will about the wine magazines and the national critics (and the Wine Curmudgeon has), but they count in a way that those of us who live here don't. I can write about Texas wine all I want, but I'm not Mariani. His article about Texas wines that I linked to above will show up on Texas winery web sites and in marketing pieces almost immediately. What I wrote earlier this month won't.
This is neither good nor bad. It's just the way it is. The important thing is whether it improves the quality of Texas wine and gets more people to try it.