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The good old days of Texas champagne

bubblyThe Moyer Texas Champagne company lasted about a decade, long enough to reportedly supply wine for George H.W. Bush’s presidential inauguration in 1988.

An Ohioan named Ken Moyer founded the company and made his first bubbly in 1983. He sold Moyer several years later to a French wine executive, Henri Bernabe, who vowed to “compete head to head with the best of California. We plan to fill a void in the marketplace.”

Texas-made sparkling wine is rare, even today. Thirty years ago, when there were only a handful of wineries in the state, it was much less practical. Sparkling wine is difficult, coslty, and time-consuming to make, requires top-notch grapes, and needs an established market for its products. Moyer and later Bernabe used methode champenoise to make their wine, complicating an already complicated business.

That’s because Texas’ producers had neither the skill nor the quality fruit (nor much fruit at all) to do bubbly well then, and the idea that there was a market for it – when it took 20 years for a Texas wine identity to develop – is the definition of “Champagne wishes and caviar dreams.”

Yes, you’re asking, but how did it taste? The Wine Curmudgeon never had any, but my pal John Bratcher, who sold the wine during his retail days in Lubbock, says he remembers two styles — dry and sweet, and they were OK, nothing more. What really hampered sales, though, says Bratcher, was the price, which was about as much as an entry-level Champagne cost in the mid-1980s.

5 Responses to The good old days of Texas champagne

  1. Cord Switzer says:

    We have about 1000 cases of the last Moyer Champagne. Much of it still on tirage and we have about 3 cases of the Champagne bottled especially for the inauguration of President George H.W. Bush in 1989.Henri Bernabe was the head of the family business Richter SA which at the time was the largest producer of grape plants in the world. This – according to his book “Texas Sparkles”.
    Cord Switzer
    Fredericksburg Winery
    wine@fbgwinery.com

  2. Jeff Siegel says:

    Cord, we need to do a tasting. Who knew there was any of that wine left?

  3. Franica Dusilo says:

    I have a bottle from ghw bush’s inaugural in 1989. Is this champagne still drinkable, and would be the value of a bottle of this Moyer Wine at this time?
    Best, franica

    • I think you have a collector’s item, though if it’s worth anything it’s for the novelty and not the wine inside.

      Those wines were not made to age, so it probably isn’t worth drinking (especially if it wasn’t stored in a cool place, away from the light).

      Take a picture and I’ll post it on the blog.

  4. Mark Lindstrom says:

    I’m looking for a bottle of Moyer champagne to give as a gift. If you know if anyone with a bottle to sell I would be grateful.

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