In 1978, after a summer studying the vineyards of France, Cox, along with his parents and wife Jennifer, planted the largest all vinifera vineyard in Texas at that time (15 acres) in the varieties Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, French Colombard, and Ruby Cabernet, and founded Pheasant Ridge Winery. They later expanded the vineyard to 48 acres and added Semillion, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, for the French style blends for which the winery was recognized. In 1986, his 1983 Pheasant Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon received the first gold medal awarded a Texas red wine in the San Francisco Wine Competition. Robert Parker first recognized Texas wines when in 1988, he gave Cox’s 83 Cabernet and the non vintage Proprietor’s Reserve a score of 89. In the following years numerous international awards brought notoriety to the wines and placement on wine lists at some of the nation’s most highly acclaimed restaurants from New York’s 21 Club to Los Angeles’ Spago. In 1996, the Cox family sold Pheasant Ridge, but Bobby remained in the industry, both in vineyard management and winemaking. His wines continued to be awarded top honors, including the Grand Star Award, Reserve Champion Double Gold Medal at the 2008 Houston Livestock and Rodeo International Wine Competition for his ’06 Viognier made at Brennan Vineyards. Chef Dean Fearing of Dallas recently said, “…to my mind, Bobby Cox is still Texas’ best winemaker.”
Bobby Cox has been planting and managing vineyards on the High Plains of Texas since 1973. Vineyard management and wine sales as a sommelier served as his occupation through college years at Texas Tech University where he received a bachelor’s degree in 1975 with a minor in horticulture. Following graduation, he worked as a wholesale grower of ornamental plants and later managed the Texas A&M research vineyard at Lubbock, where he worked with Dr. William Lipe and approximately 700 grape varieties. From this experience he gained early knowledge of the suitability of a large number of grapes for commercial production on the High Plains. Combined with extensive exploration of the vineyards of California and France, he became convinced that the High Plains is one of the best terroirs for vinifera grapes in the world.
For the past twenty years, Cox has given his attention full time to vineyard management and development. He has personally planted more than 400 acres of vinifera vines in Texas. He has been instrumental in the addition of many new varieties to the High Plains: Viognier, Carignane, Mourvedre, Grenache, and Sangiovese, to name but a few. The Texas Wine and Grape Grower’s Association recognized his contributions to Texas viticulture with the 2004 T.V. Munson Award, and in 2008, they again recognized his contributions to the industry with the John Crawford Lifetime Achievement Award,and In 2010 he received the President’s Award. Today he is once again owner and winegrower at Pheasant Ridge Winery.