In 1985, Rebecca Murphy, a widely respected wine writer in Dallas, conceived of a major wine competition that would focus on wines available in the state of Texas. She used her extensive contacts in the industry to test the idea, and subsequently approached John A. Rector Jr., then President of The Dallas Morning News, to offer him the opportunity for The Dallas Morning News to become presenting sponsor and promotional publication for her wine competition.
Over the years, the relationship grew and the competition blossomed. For the first 14 years, the competition was open only to wines produced in the United States; in 1999, Rebecca Murphy decided to open the competition to wines produced in all wine regions of the world. This, and Murphy’s tireless work to promote the winners of the competition to the retailers and best sommeliers in Texas, allowed the competition to become one of the top wine competitions in the USA. The zenith of the promotional sponsorship corresponded with the reign of Burl Osborne as Publisher of The Dallas Morning News. Mr. Osborne threw the then-considerable resources of the newspaper into promoting and supporting Rebecca Murphy and the competition. The two developed a friendship that continued until Mr. Osborne’s death in 2012.
In the meantime, James Tidwell MS and Drew Hendricks MS had launched, in 2005, a conference for sommeliers—one that shared many of the ideals of Murphy’s wine competition: a focus on finding wines of distinction and on bringing together the wine community. That conference, TEXSOM, has become the leading sommelier conference in the world, and draws nearly 1,200 of the wine industry’s most influential leaders to Dallas each year. It is not surprising that Tidwell and Hendricks became deeply involved in the wine competition, and a new partnership was born. TEXSOM became a co-producer and naming sponsor of the wine competition, and in 2014, they became even more involved, assuming control of the wine competition from owner Rebecca Murphy. This included the entire production team - the staff, volunteers, and judges - and infrastructure of the competition that have become so widely respected. Rebecca Murphy continues as consultant and inspirational guru to the competition.
The transition is now complete, and combines the logistics team and infrastructure of the historical competition with the influence and power of the TEXSOM brand, which allows even more exposure for award-winners. The decision was made that the competition is better positioned to promote the awards on a national and international stage by changing the name to TEXSOM International Wine Awards. The TEXSOM name encourages sommeliers and other industry professionals to feature award-winning wines, spreading the reach and influence of the competition. The move from Competition to Awards better reflects the nature of the event since more than one wine can be awarded a medal in any category. The Awards will continue to maintain the basis of judging categories so wines are organized by region, then grape variety. Judging is on a regional basis to promote a sense of origin and judges are assigned to categories for which they have an intimate knowledge.
Texas Monthly joined as presenting sponsor with the 2015 Awards. TEXSOM is proud to work with a dynamic, creative, and respected publication whose values and goals align with TEXSOM and the wine industry. This collaboration will amplify the reach of the competition’s results and promotional efforts.
The 2017 Awards represented the breadth of the wine world with entries from 25 states and 25 countries totaling nearly 3,600 entries. The entries were blind-tasted and judged by 70 internationally renowned industry influencers from 10 countries. Suggested retail pricing of medal-winning entries ranged from $2.99 to $770. Vintages spanned 75 years with the oldest being 1941. The diversity of the Awards provides an array of choice for all beverage enthusiasts. The winners have been promoted across the United States and the world through events, features, and press exposure. This has led to increased awareness for Awards-winning wines that TEXSOM plans to expand in future years
The TEXSOM International Wine Awards team looks forward to working with the entire wine industry to identify and champion wines of quality and distinction at all levels around the world.