We started modestly, funded by a passionate group of investors. Among them was a Texas Tech horticulturist, a man convinced West Texas could produce quality wine grapes.
It wasn’t easy persuading local farmers to invest in vineyards, but after we built our original winemaking facility outside Lubbock in 1976, vineyards began to dot the Texas High Plains.
By 1980, word spread that an upstart West Texas label was making quality wine and we hired former Seagram’s President Walter Haimann to steer the winery to, well, see for yourself.
We broke out onto the American wine scene with a rare Double Gold Medal for our 1984 Chardonnay at the San Francisco Fair’s prestigious International Wine Competition. As we continued to grow and win awards and accolade domestically and internationally, we raised the profile of Texas wines as a whole.
Within the next 20 years, our wines could be found in many states outside of Texas, as well as three European markets, Japan and Russia. It was then that we convinced third-generation California winemaker Greg Bruni to take over winemaking and production responsibilities. Shortly after, Mark Hyman joined Llano as our V.P. of Sales & Marketing, rounding out the most professional management team in the Texas wine industry.
Eventually becoming President/CEO, Hyman brought in William Freidhof to head up Sales & Marketing and Kristi Ward to head up Finance & Administration. The result is about what you’ve come to expect from the West Texas winery pioneer. Our market sales have grown to over 160,000 cases annually and we’re still expanding. With new ideas, new innovations, new wines and new technology, we’ll continue to propel Llano Estacado to the forefront—where it remains as the best-selling premium winery in Texas.
We’ve come a long way since 1976. See some of the major steps in our journey below.