Texas Vineyards Poised for a Banner Year

Texas vineyards could experience a banner year as wine grape quantity and quality are expected to reach new heights, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service expert.

Jim Kamas, AgriLife Extension fruit specialist, Fredericksburg, said producers faced some concerns and minor struggles early this season, but overall Texas wine grape growers are on track to produce a surplus of quality fruit.

Earlier this year, there was concern about frost among producers around the state when vines broke dormancy early due to mild winter conditions, Kamas said. But temperatures remained mild.

Spring rains created conditions for disease, but Kamas said most vintners are aware of the fungal threat and kept their grape clusters clean and treated against diseases.

“The high rainfall early meant some producers struggled to keep their grapes clean and then the hot, dry weather set in and conditions were good,” he said. “The early conditions were just something they had to endure, and most producers know what their weaknesses are.”

Kamas said Gulf Coast wine grapes have been harvested, and Hill Country harvests were wrapping up. Producers in the Gulf Coast reported average yields and good quality while Hill Country yields were above average and quality was exceptional.

Michael Cook, AgriLife Extension viticulture program specialist, Denton, said North Texas vineyards avoided frost and have performed well under wetter-than-normal conditions. One vineyard reported hail damage.

Bloom occurred uninterrupted, Cook said, and the majority of growers are experiencing a large crop of very high quality.

“Winery reports thus far have confirmed healthy crop loads with excellent wet chemistry parameters and very good aromatic potential,” he said. “Overall, this year has been a good year for growing grapes in North Texas.”

Producers in the High Plains just began harvesting white grapes, Kamas said. Harvests should continue in the region over the next six to eight weeks.

Kamas said new growers have expanded vineyard acreage in the High Plains in recent years and many young vineyards in the region produced fruit for the first time.

“There are several hundred acres with young vines that will have quality grapes for the first time,” he said. “There are new growers getting into the game and as they get it figured out, they’re putting in more blocks of grapes as are numerous experienced growers.”

Kamas said the Texas viticulture market could face lower grape prices due to the rise in acres and quality of grapes being produced.

“We may be entering a phase where we see surplus grapes and less capable growers may find it difficult in that market,” he said. “The quantity and quality of Texas wine grapes is improving. There are more growers and they are becoming increasingly proficient at what they are doing and therefore more profitable.”

AgriLife Extension district summaries can be found here.

Source: Texas AgriLife Extension

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