Texas is renowned for its barbecued brisket, steaks the size of manhole covers and Lone Star beer.

Its wines, however. . . not so much.

That, however, may be changing, as Texas farmers are replacing fields of what has long been the state’s cash crop, cotton, with. . . wait for it. . . wine grapes. And not high-yielding but mediocre varietals good only for producing oceans of industrial-style plonk. Though initial plantings were the usual vinous suspects like Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, today savvy Texas winegrowers are planting grapes better suited to Texas’s extreme hot-and-cold climate, grapes like Tempranillo, Sangiovese and Viognier.

In fact, the Texas wine industry has grown so dramatically that in the years from 2010 to 2014, wine production has almost reached 2 million cases, a 36 percent increase that brings in some $2 million a year to the state’s economy, according to the research firm of Wines Vines Analytics.

The reasons for the boom in Texas wine production are twofold: money and water. Texas has been in the grip of a five-year drought that has cost farmers and ranchers an estimated $8 billion. Wine grapes require a lot less scarce water than cotton yet one acre of vineyards can produce the same revenue as 40 acres of cotton, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal,

And while popular knowledge of Texas history is pretty much confined to stories of cowboys, cattle rustlers, oilmen and right-wing politicians, wine is also deeply rooted in the state’s past. Wine grapes were first planted in Texas in the 1650s, 100 years before California, and horticultural research done there helped find the phylloxera-resistant rootstock that save the French wine industry in the mid-1800s. Today Texas is home to almost 300 wineries, up from 54 only 10 years ago.