HILL COUNTRY, Texas (KXAN) - While the nation is bouncing back from a soft job market, the Texas wine industry has grown steadily in the last 10 years, the time that Flat Creek Estate opened with five staffers.
Today more than 20 employees are needed to keep up with sales at the winery located in the Hill Country.
"Our own business has expanded dramatically from that small tasting room," said Madelyn Naber, co-owner of Flat Creek Estate. "We've doubled our size of our winery production from about 8,500 to about 10,000 cases. We've added a restaurant that's open Tuesday through Sunday, so everything here has grown dramatically."
It's growth that translates to jobs. According to a Texas Tech University study, there were only 1,800 wine industry jobs back in 2001. Now that number is more than 11,000 and growing.
Angela Moench owns her own vineyard in Spicewood. She said her business has grown fourfold since she opened 13 years ago and is now up to 10 staff people.
"We were about 1,000 cases; we're now about 4,000 cases," said Moench. "I would say our traffic has increased extraordinarily actually."
To give you an idea of how fast the wine industry has been growing: there were only 46 wineries in Texas in 2001 -- 10 years later there are more than 220 of them, creating an impact of about $2 billion statewide.
Susan Yewell calls herself a "wine diva." She said working at a winery is more of a lifestyle than a job.
"I really enjoy working with people who've never been to a tasting room before," said Yewell, "and just educating them about what it's like what to expect."
The State Department of Agriculture says Texas is the fifth largest wine making state in the country -- but that's likely to increase as more people are discovering the wine country.
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