The Hub City has been welcoming guests with west Texas hospitality since the original settlement was founded in 1890. Home to Texas Tech University, multiple wineries and one of the largest collections of windmills on earth, Lubbock is attracting the attention of Texas meeting and event planners.
“A lot of people don’t realize it’s really easy to get to—we have direct flights from Dallas, Austin and Denver,” says Alyssa Kitten, communications and digital manager for the Lubbock Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Lubbock is known as the ‘Hub City’ because it’s like the hub and spokes of a wagon wheel. Lots of highways run through.”
Kitten is part of a bureau team dedicated to helping planners coordinate meetings in the Hub City. “We offer so many services, including helping planners with contracts, coordinating gift bags and baskets, and marketing services depending on the number of nights [of the event],” she says.
Incorporated in 1902, Lubbock is a city filled with buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s home to the well-known Buddy Holly Center, celebrating the life of the city’s most famous son, as well as the Cactus Theater on Buddy Holly Avenue, which anchors the Lubbock Depot Entertainment District.
The bustling historic downtown has grown as a prime Texas destination since historic renovations began in the downtown area in the mid-1990s. Since the ‘90s, the city has become home to a thriving music and arts scene, and Texas Tech University provides the city with a constant influx of youthful energy and high spirits.
In the heart of downtown Lubbock’s Depot District, a former Coca-Cola bottling plant has been converted into a tasting room and event center for McPherson Cellars winery. Lubbock has a proud history of award-winning winemakers going back to the 1970s, when winemaking first took root in Texas.
“Our area grows about 70 percent of the wine grapes for the entire state. We have a great climate for it—dry and arid,” Kitten says.
Winemaker Kim McPherson founded the bottling plant-turned-winery in 2008 and named it in honor of his father “Doc” McPherson, one of the original Lubbock winemakers and a co-founder of Llano Estacado Winery in 1976. The senior McPherson was the first to grow Italian Sangiovese grapes in Texas and became one of the pioneers of Texas winemaking.
Kim McPherson followed in those footsteps and became an award-winning winemaker in his own right, first in Napa Valley then with well-known Lubbock wineries Llano Estacado and CapRock Winery.
The McPherson Cellars tasting room and courtyard are open to the public Monday through Saturday and the event center accommodates up to 250 guests. Tours are available by appointment.
McPherson Cellars is one of a handful of young wineries operating in Lubbock. In addition to its own award-winning wine, it produces house wines for La Diosa Cellars, a restaurant and event space located across the street that features Spanish-inspired dishes and a global wine selection. La Diosa accommodates up to 35 guests in its private event space, or the entire restaurant can be rented out for private events.
Llano Estacado Winery
On the east side of Lubbock, Llano Estacado is the largest and perhaps oldest winery in Texas. Sales of Llano Estacado top more than 170,000 cases of wine per year. As one of the first post-Prohibition wineries to open in Texas in 1976, the company began winning awards and expanding into global distribution in the 1980s.
In 2015, the winery built a tasting room and event center so guests can tour the grounds and host events in the vineyard year-round. The new facility offers four private event spaces, a bridal dressing room and an outdoor space in the vineyard itself. The vineyard accommodates up to 300 seated guests and is a popular venue for outdoor weddings.
Inside the winery, groups can schedule tours of the facility or arrange events in the conference room, tasting room, banquet room or event center lobby.
The conference room is the smallest space, designed for corporate meetings and private dinners. It overlooks the tasting center and includes a large presentation screen and audiovisual support. The room seats up to 20 guests around a central table.
The event center lobby is the next largest space, with seating for 24 or up to 40 standing guests. The lobby can be configured as a cocktail space with cocktail tables and chairs or left open for small parties and receptions.
For groups of up to 50 seated or 100 standing, the tasting room includes a wraparound patio with views of nearby cotton fields and a central bar area for serving guests. The tasting room is located just outside the largest event space—the 3,200-square-foot banquet room.
With seating for up to 200 or 300 standing guests, the banquet room rental includes tables, chairs and linens and can be customized to accommodate dinners or cocktail events. The space has become popular for cocktail and happy hours, rehearsal dinners and weddings from ceremony to reception.
American Wind Power Center
Many people know Lubbock was home to Buddy Holly, and many may even know it’s home to the majority of Texas winemaking. But not as many people realize Lubbock is also home to perhaps the largest collection of windmills in the world.
The American Wind Power Center, a nonprofit organization and museum, celebrates windmills and wind power with more than 170 windmills on roughly 28 acres of land south of Mackenzie Park. A 9,000-square-foot facility houses some of the windmills and serves as an event space that can be rented out for meetings and events.
“Everyone who goes there leaves in awe,” Kitten says. “We held a big conference out there—they have a room with a 6,000-square-foot mural and garage doors that open to overlook the windmills. It’s really unique, I don’t know where else you’d find that kind of venue.”
The building itself is located just north of Mae Simmons Park, and meeting planners are invited to bring their own catering in for events. The space can be configured for standing or seated events.
The center is also a working museum with exhibits and tours, so guided tours can be arranged with museum volunteers. The collection spans the entire history of windmill usage, with many rare mills collected from around the country since the 1960s.
In addition to historic mills, a completed VESTAS Model V47 wind turbine is also available for touring to help guests understand modern wind energy technology.
Jones AT&T Stadium
As the home of Texas Tech University, Lubbock is most definitely a football town. At the center of Texas Tech is the Jones AT&T Stadium, where upwards of 60,000 fans gather to watch Red Raider football during home games.
A decade-long $135 million stadium renovation project has brought 29 luxury suites to the east side stadium building, 47 private suites to the west side building and a luxury club level that can accommodate large group events. The west side stadium club and suite complex added 175,000 square feet of space, including a press level for national media, more than 150 video screens, over a thousand new club seats and the open club level for hosting events.
“We’re a big spirited city and we host a lot of big games at the stadium. The club level looks out over the field, the big screen can be customized and we can arrange for groups to walk out on the field,” Kitten says.
The customizable big screen is a 38-foot-by- 100-foot high-definition video board installed just before the 2013 season and mounted on a five-tier structure. The stadium’s private spaces accommodate groups of various sizes.
“The spring and summer are great times for events, and fall is also great, but with the university’s football season, hotels get booked quickly,” says Kitten, who recommends planners keep the football schedule in mind when planning large events. “New hotels are under construction and popping up everywhere.”
Overton Hotel and Conference Center
For larger events and conferences, the Overton Hotel and Conference Center provides luxury service and accommodations in addition to 20,000 square feet of combined ballroom, meeting and exhibit space.
“The Overtown Hotel is the only Four Diamond hotel in west Texas. It has a chic west Texas flair,” Kitten says.
Modern and updated, the 15-story hotel anchors an 11,250-square-foot column-free exhibit space and ballroom that can be used for conferences, galas or large-scale meetings and events with up to 1,200 guests.
State-of-the-art technology, including highspeed wired and wireless Internet access, are available in all the meeting and event spaces. Full catering and banquet services are also offered in all the event spaces.
In addition to the large exhibit space and ballroom, there are four meeting rooms, two executive board rooms and pre-event areas off the main ballroom. Each of these rooms accommodate smaller team and board meetings.
WINE INDUSTRY THRIVES IN TEXAS HIGH PLAINS
The 2013 Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association survey found the wine and grape industry contributes $1.88 billion to the Texas economy. As the fifth most wine-producing state and the seventh largest producer of wine grapes in the country, the number of wineries across Texas grew 153 percent between 2005 and 2013. Lubbock and the Panhandle are part of the Texas High Plains growing region.
LUBBOCK BY THE NUMBERS
8 Million Acres, Second Only to Hill country with 9 Million Acres
80 Percent of Texas Wine Grapes Are Grown Here