Terry County is quickly earning a reputation as the premier destination for wineries across Texas to purchase grapes grown in the Lone Star State.
A new project currently on the drawing board could make Brownfield a destination for wine loving tourists.
The High Plains Winery Estates, master planned community of wineries and vineyards, could soon draw wine enthusiasts and their dollars associated with the industry to this city for day trips, weekend getaways, large events and even weddings and receptions.
The idea, currently only in conceptual phase, would transform the remaining 100-plus acres of the Brownfield Industrial Park on the city’s southwest side.
Brownfield Industrial Development executive director David Partlow and his predecessor in the same position, Jack Cargill, will promote the concept to Napa Valley wine makers this week at the World Ag Expo in California.
But even in its infancy, the idea is generating considerable interest from those who have heard about it and seen the drawings.
“This is a brand new idea, but the reaction we are getting has been absolutely incredible,” Partlow told the Brownfield News before departing for California. “We haven’t even begun to promote it yet, but word seems to be spreading through the grapevine and we are already getting calls from people in this industry who want to be a part of it. It’s all very exciting and it could do so much to add to the local economy. The people who travel to visit wineries bring a lot of money with them.”
Each tract will be sold with contractual obligations to plant the land to vineyard grapes and construct a winery/retail location that must meet specifications of size and appearance.
A winding paved road and corresponding walking paths will meander through the park, connecting each winery and potentially additional retail outlets or restaurants.
At the center of the design is a manicured park with a large lake and fountain that will be home to a wedding chapel at one end and an event center capable of seating as many as 400 guests at the other, as well as adequate parking spaces.
Partlow said more than one of the tracts already have been informally spoken for and he also has been approached by someone interested in building and maintaining the internal park, wedding chapel and event center.
Those facilities would be rented for public and private events.
Partlow has met already with a potential investor from Lubbock who expressed his intent to purchase one of the tracts, install the vineyard, build the winery and also construct a bed and breakfast on the property with a boardwalk connecting the buildings.
Another already established winery in Lubbock contacted him as well, requesting information on the future of the project.
“This has really sparked the imaginations of everyone who has heard about it so far,” Partlow said. “They see the drawing and just instantly understand and start asking how they can be involved.”
The funds raised by BID- Corp. from selling the tracts will go toward installing the necessary infrastructure, such as the road and sidewalks, lighting and other amenities.
Earnest money will be required to hold the tracts and construction on the location will begin once a sufficient number of them are sold and sales are made final.
Partlow will recruit a retail developer to attract boutiques or shops to the park, an example of which are depicted in the original rendering, but could move in or around the park.
As part of the plan, all of the vineyards would pay a fee each year — akin to a homeowners association — that would fund the upkeep of the grounds.
The outlying border of the High Plains Winery Estates would be built up with high berms to isolate the interior from the sights and sounds of the outside world.
“We want this to be an immersive experience,” Partlow said. “We believe people will drive here with plans to spend an afternoon, even a night or two, to get lost in the atmosphere of a beautiful park and rows of vineyards as far as they can see in every direction. Just imagine having eight high class wineries with tasting rooms and retail shops and walking from one to the next in such a beautiful location. It really is an attractive thought and I think it will turn into an attractive park like nothing else in West Texas.”
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 last year.
As part of their business plan, TCWW will install and man- age 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 want- ed 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 80 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 be- ginning 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.”