City Council Approved Zoning For High Plains Winery Estates

A project that has been on the drawing board for almost two years and which some believe could transform Brownfield got a nod of approval from the City Council Thursday morning. The council gave unanimous approval to the final zoning plat for creation of the High Plains Winery Estates, a reimagining of the long-vacant Brownfield Industrial Park.

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The winery park, a master planned community of wineries and vineyards which could soon draw wine enthusiasts and their dollars associated with the industry to this city for day trips, weekend get-aways, large events and even weddings and receptions, was first announced in February of 2014.

Since then, the concept has seen several renditions and conceptions, culminating with the draft approved Thursday by the council. Brownfield Industrial Development Corp. executive director David Partlow discussed the project and told the council when it is completed, it will be “Brownfield’s first tourist attraction.” Partlow said he and former BIDCorp. board member Brian Brisendine developed the idea together more than two years ago and have worked on it behind the scenes since then. “We were just thinking out loud over lunch about how best to utilize that piece of land,” Brisendine said after the meeting. “I drew a rough sketch over an aerial view of the Industrial Park and David ran with it from there. “This has been a passion project that we think will make Brown-field a destination for people who love wine and travel and usually have expendable income,” he continued.

“We have some of the best farmers in the world growing award winning wine grapes on par with any other wine region. Through their hard work and the support and dedication of our Chamber of Commerce, we are the Grape Capital of Texas. With that comes a tremendous amount of publicity that money can’t buy, so this project is an effort to tap into the success that we think Brownfield is on the verge of realizing.”

To begin the meeting, Ricky Dunn, chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission said several people spoke in favor of the High Plains Winery Estates at a recent public hearing and that the commission recommended the project be approved by the Council.

Partlow showed the latest plat drawing and told the council that several of the vineyard spaces already are spoken for with the southern-most 20 acres planted with grapes in recent months. More of the vineyard spaces have been spoken for, while other parties have expressed interest in the park as well.

winery_zoning_2A major component to the success of the project, will be construction of a community event center at its core, which Partlow said currently is in a feasibility study with promising preliminary results. The council questioned if Brownfield could be included in the name of the project. Partlow pointed out that the official logo includes “Brownfield, Texas” but added that it could be enlarged.

Since the idea was first pitched, a number of industry experts, including local growers and wine makers, as well as a professional marketing company from Austin, have discussed the project with the BIDCorp. board. All of them have concurred that it is a unique idea not yet seen in Texas. Partlow told the News one of the negative comments he has heard is that Brownfield doesn’t draw enough tourists for the project to succeed. “We heard that a lot early on, but the answer to that is simple,” he said. “We have never had a reason for tourists to stop. This will change that. This park will make Brownfield a destination that people will want to visit.” Another selling point to potential investors of High Plains Winery Estates is the conjoining location of Texas Custom Wine Works, which opened in the park three years ago. As part of their business plan, TCWW will install and manage vineyards for any investor, including those inside the new park. In theory, someone with a desire to own a vineyard, but no experience in operating one, could retain the services of TCWW to handle the viticulture aspect, while they concentrate on the retail and other business opportunities.

“With TCWW out there, it could be a turn-key business for anyone if that’s how they wanted to handle it,” Partlow said. “They’ll even handle the wine making aspect and your winery might be for appearances only and be more of a retail outlet instead of a production facility. The possibilities are boundless with TCWW sitting right there, ready to help.”

Terry County is home to more than 90 percent of Texas’ wine grapes with hundreds of more acres planned for installation this year. Industry experts agree that growth will continue locally and the market exists for as many as 8,000 acres, which heralds a bright future for Terry County’s wine industry. With that in mind, Partlow said the High Plains Winery Estates could be only the beginning of a thriving tourist industry for Brownfield and Terry County. “BIDCorp. is committed to diversifying the local economy and this is an example of how we’re trying to do that,” he said. “It’s hard to overestimate how big this could be for Brownfield and Terry County. It’s all very exciting.”

Article Courtesy of Brownfield News

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