July 29, 2022


The grapes are coming into the wineries along the Gulf Coast and the Texas Hill Country. Vineyards across the country are also starting to bring grapes into the wineries. “When should the grapes be picked?”, many people ask me. First and foremost the grapes need to be ripe. Secondly the labor pool has much to say about when along with the incoming weather. Regardless of a shortage of grape pickers or pending bad weather, wineries want those grapes when they are PERFECT! Just what constitutes PERFECT GRAPES? I believe three factors being grape ripeness, chemistry and varietal taste must be present for grapes to be classified as GREAT. The grapes have evolved to full ripeness when the four seeds turn from green to brown with the grape skin thinned out with grapes to their optimum skin color. These seeds will taste nut-like. Secondly, the sugar content needs to be at the appropriate sugar content or BRIX as the grape industry calls the sugar content. When grapes ripen the soluble solids percentage is around 98% sugars so the term BRIX and sugar content are basically one on one for correlation. BRIX is defined as percent of soluble solids. The BRIX levels will vary as to optimum levels based on grape varietals. For instance, BRIX for Cabernet Sauvignon is around 26 to 28 while for Blanc du Bois around 21. The higher the BRIX , the higher the alcohol content will be, assuming fermentation to its fullest. Pending rain will lower BRIX by several points so vineyards want to pick when the BRIX levels are high. In addition, total acidity in grapes is measured with acid levels needing to be appropriate or the wines will turn out flimsy. Grape juice pH is also measured and should be low and is the inverse of high acid for those that remember your high school chemistry. The third decision-make in establishing the ripeness of the grapes is whether the grapes appear and taste like the varietal indicates it should be. For instance, Chardonnay grapes will have a taste similar to pear and green apples. Those flavors are natural and will show through in great wines. The axiom for making great wines is to start out with outstanding grapes! You just cannot make a good wine with bad grapes. These bits of data are brought in almost daily by people in the vineyards starting the grape sampling as the grapes go through the ripening process also called verasion. This information is viewed and plotted daily to follow the ripening curves of the grapes. The daily information is normally plotted on a graph depicting BRIX, Total Acidity, and pH. It becomes a challenge to ensure optimum BRIX and high acid levels while also sampling and tasting the grapes and grape seeds for ripeness. Wineries like Flat Creek, William Chris, Los Pinos Family and Messina Hof have begun harvesting and CRUSHING their grapes. More on the Texas harvest next week.
Texas Restaurants Serving Texas Wines
The Empty Glass in Tomball proudly serves a variety of Texas wines from William-Christ, Llano Estacado, Fall Creek, Wimberly, Bernhardt, and Los Pinos Wineries. Their eclectic Texas style pairs wonderfully with their array of Texas wines and Texas music. This is a place where your friends gather with you to share great Texas foods wines, and music.

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