September 24, 2021

Texas Grape Harvest

The white wine grapes normally come in first with the red wine grapes coming in next. This has been the case in Texas, but the grape harvest is coming in slower than normal. Jason Centanni with Llano Estacado Winery in Lubbock told me “Our harvest started the end of the first week of August when we brought in Chardonnay from Dell Valley Vineyard in west Texas. Since then, we’ve processed over 650 tons through the second week of September and have barely begun bringing in our red wine grapes! The west Texas wine growing region has had near perfect weather during these harvest months with warm days and cool nights, and only a spotty thunderstorm or two popping up. “This year has been unusual in Texas vineyards due to the impacts of the February freeze. That freeze destroyed much of the primary grape buds with grape vines fruiting out on secondary and tertiary grape buds.
Kelly Hagemeie, General Manager of Kerrville Hill Winery relayed to me “The 2021 harvest has been one of the most interesting of my career. First of all, we have dealt with all the effects of Mother Nature early in the growing season. This making the challenge even greater than usual. With our growers working to overcome these to then have ripening occurred in the wildest timing I’ve seen in Texas. All that being said, the quality of fruit has been excellent for the most part. It’s great to work with so many growers, 32 and counting. It’s amazing to see the growth of Texas.” John Rivenbaugh is th e Owner and winemaker and vineyard manager for Kerrville Hill Winery. He has a “hands on approach” to making wine starting in the vineyards. John said, “There’s a certain mentality among some growers and vintners to tinker and overthink, but constantly manipulating watering and fertilizing schedules can actually weaken grapes in the long run. Following classic textbook rules in Texas doesn’t always work. Simply being a good steward of the land and being observant produces much better and more authentic results than constant manipulation.” This philosophy has helped John produce grapes of outstanding quality in a sustainable vineyard.
Non-Commercial Wine Industry in Texas
The only non-commercial wine contest held at a County Fair is coming up in Austin County in Belleville, Texas. Paul Darst is taking over the reins from the wine competition from Jerry Watson who is well known in Texas circle as being a great producer of Blanc du Bois grapes. The Gulf Coast Winegrowers Association This Wine Show is open to all Texas residents who make non-commercial wines. It is the ONLY non-commercial statewide wine show presented by a county fair in Texas. The Show is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 17 in the American Legion Hall on the fairgrounds with judging beginning at 1:00pm. This competition offers non-commercial wine makers in Austin County and across the state a chance to show off their wines for bragging rights and maybe even earn a medal or belt buckle. Past entrants have taken the next step and gone on to become successful commercial winemakers.
For those who wish to learn how to make wine, the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association is sponsoring a grape camp. On November 9th and 10th, an educational program will be held to teach Texans how to make wine. This two-day educational program will be held at the Dripping Springs Ranch and Park. For more information, go to

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