Making Port Style Wine from Mustang Grapes

By far, the most prolific wild grape in Texas is the widely distributed Vitis mustangensis, or Mustang grape. It was historically the major wine grape of early settlers and remains a dominant choice for home winemakers in its distribution area. As popular as the wine is, there is also a great popularity in Port-style Mustang wines. Ranging from Mexico through Texas to Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Alabama, the grape vine is easily recognizable from great distances by its dark green upper surface and almost white undersurface. Its tolerance of alkaline soils and deep root structure allows it to naturally thrive where other grapes will not and tolerate surface droughts for indeterminate periods. But it tolerates acidic soils as well, allowing it to grow among the pine and hardwood forests. The name “Mustang” is sometimes confused with the similar sounding Muscadine grape. Although they are both thick-skinned and overlap geographically, Muscadines (Vitis rotundifolia) are a separate species and have different organoleptic properties. Likewise, the wines they produce are very different. The Mustang Grape Mustang grapes grow in clusters rather than bunches.