September 1, 2023


Labor Day at Texas Wineries and Vineyards
This Summer of 2023 has been a historic Summer of temperatures over 100 degrees, with some days approaching 110 degrees in temperature. Weather forecasts are predicting more temperatures over 100 in the coming week. This weekend is a three-day weekend with Labor Day on Monday. Normally, we start to transition to the Fall with cooler temperatures on the way. This Labor Day normally marks the transition from lighter clothing, lighter foods, and lighter wines to heavier clothing as the weather cools. In addition, our foods normally get heavier as we transition to red wines which are heavier. That will not be the case for several more weeks. However, cooler weather will be coming so we can make this transition.
Texas is enjoying another outstanding year of a quality harvest through the Labor Day weekend. Grape quantities are down this year since all of Texas, including grape vines suffered through the dry weather, February’s Freeze of two years ago, and Bayer’s Diacamba herbicide which is killing hundreds of acres of vineyards according to vineyard owners. The grapes have been harvested along the Gulf Coast and the Texas Hill County. The grapes on the Texas High plains have everyone abuzz about 2023 being another awesome year for Texas, once of the BEST ever! About 70% of the Texas grapes are harvested on the flat lands of the Texas High Plains. These flat lands make harvesting grapes easy with mechanical grape harvesters. These machines have vibrating sides on each side of the rows of grape vines guided by a wheeled mechanism. About 100 grape pickers equal the daily output of just one mechanical harvester. With lack of farm labor, Texas is not being impacted unlike California with its steeply sloping vineyards and lack of farm hands. These machine-harvested grapes come into the winery cleaner and faster than hand-harvested grapes. As a result of a faster accumulation of grapes via mechanical harvester, the grapes arrive at the wineries in less than 90 minutes vs. several hours of vineyard storage and accumulation of grapes to justify transportation to the winery by truck. The grapes that arrive faster from mechanical harvest have a temperature about one to two degrees above ambient air temperature. However, grapes that have to reside in the storage bins in vineyards for hours start fermentation via rogue yeasts and bacteria. Winemakers have no control over these rogue fermentations and sometime have unusual tastes that the winemaker does NOT want to have in his wines. With this type of mechanical harvesting, Texas wineries are experiencing better quality grapes at the winery. Although the final end of the grape harvest is several weeks away, most everyone agrees that Texas is finding its identity and making lots of award-winning wines. As we look into another quality grape harvest, it appears that Texas is poised to continue to earn the recognition it has earned year after year with more BEST in SHOW, Gold Medals and Double Gold Medals. Grapes in California have not been harvested to the extent that is seen in Texas.
The Ferm Meadery
Mike and Cathy Rape opened The Ferm Meadery at 225 Simonton on the south side of the Montgomery Courthouse two years ago. The Meadery is open Thursday through Sunday from 2 to 6 pm with hours extending up to 8 pm on Friday and Saturday. Mead wine is made from the sugars in honey mixed with water and fermented, hence their name The Ferm. I am impressed by the quality of their Mead and the fun atmosphere inside their tasting room in historic downtown Conroe. Their Mead is similar to what we normally perceive as a wine made from grapes. While tasting an unadulterated Mead, I could sense the flowers that the bees visited to gather pollen which is used to make the honey used in the Mead. I hope you will join me in supporting our latest addition to historic downtown Conroe. It is definitely worth your time to visit and taste their wines which have a wide variety of tastes with additives included to enhance the wines aka Meads.
BE Vineyards
Conroe’s original winery, Blue Epiphany Vineyards (now known as BE Winery), is located at 400 Bryant Road on the north side of Conroe. They opened their downtown tasting room adjacent to the University of St. Thomas at the southeast corner of North Main and West Davis Streets two years ago. Their wines are outstanding with two of their red wines earning Double Gold Medals in International Wine Competition. This winery is operated by James Barber who has strong ties to law enforcement.
Bernhardt Winery Concerts
The Bernhardt winery folks are looking forward to sharing their wines, stories, poetry, and music with you! Jerry Bernhardt invites you to join him on the north winery lawn for another year of Sunday evening concerts paired with fellowship and great wines. The reputation for the Bernhardt Winery concerts has grown over the years with large crowds enjoying each other, Bernhardt Winery Wines, great foods, and outstanding music. I suggest getting to the winery to stake out your perfect spot with your chairs and tables, foods, and of course your choices in Bernhardt Wines. You can bring your own foods or buy available foods on the winery site. This winery is both kid and dog friendly, but you still must take full responsibility for both! You can bring it ALL to the winery concerts, EXCEPT outside alcohol since the TABC says that is a BIG No-No! There is a nominal cover charge of $10 to $15 depending on the concert for those over 18 with youngsters and dogs free. Upcoming Sunday concerts include:
• September 2nd – Vinyl Arcade for acoustic music listening
• September 3rd – Just like Pink, a Pink Tribute Concert starting at 6:30
• September 9th – Kevin Lamar and the Texas Backbone Band
• September 10th – Bad Moon Rising, a Credence Clearwater Revival Tribute
• September 16th – Manny Garcia Acoustic Guitar
• September 17th – ZZ Rocks, a ZZ Top Tribute Band
• September 23rd – Ken Brown Accoustic Guitar
• September 24th – Endless Summer, a Beach Boys Tribute Concert
• September 30th – GiGi Nieto on acoustic guitar
• October 1st – Captain Fantastic – an Elton John Tribute Concert starting at 6:00 pm
Bernhardt Winery is also putting on Saturday afternoon acoustic concerts starting around 1:00. These free Saturday events are also paired with other Saturday events at the winery. To further enjoy these concerts, I suggest bringing lots of friends.

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