A Texan Saved The Wine Industry of France
You read the title correctly.
A Texan, more specifically a Texan viticulturist, saved the wine industry in France.
His name was Thomas Volney Muson and he was the second American, after Thomas Edison, to be named a Chevalier du Merite Agricole by the French government.
Pour yourself a glass of red and sit down for this.
Seems that in the mid-1800s, Muson was known mostly in the US for his discovery of a wild species of mustang grapes along the Red River, but his specialty was grafting rootstock. By grafting he was able to develop more than 300 varieties of grapes as well as creating disease-resistant root systems in grapes. In the late 1800's Europe's grape wines were being ravaged by phylloxera, a microscopic pest that was creating an absolute epidemic for grape growers. Over 80 percent of the grapes in France were destroyed. The French were so desperate, they sent someone to Texas to meet with Muson as Muson had previously developed a rootstock resistant to phylloxera for Texas. Together they rode horseback through limestone soil that mirrored the French countryside and after grafting several native Texas species of root to European vines, the Frenchman returned home with the French version of phylloxera-resistant grapevines and thus, the entire grape industry in Europe was saved.
In honor of this work, the French government not only named Muson Chevalier du Merite Agricole of the French Legion of Honor, but Cognac, France became a sister city to Muson's home in Denison, Texas, which currently, covers 3,650 square miles in the Texoma viticultural area.
If learning that a Texan saved the wine industry in France was surprising, how's this for another tipsy tidbit ... Grapes produced in Texas has now become an industry that brings in more than $2.27 billion dollars in economic value to our great state.
A toast to Mr. Muson and one more for our grape growers in Texas.