So You Want to Grow Wine Grapes in Texas – How to Get Started
Following my blog post earlier this week on the new grant program from the Texas Department of Agriculture (http://vintagetexas.com/blog/?p=1376), I received several emails asking for information on growing grapes: What variety grows where? Where can I get more information/resources? How do I get a winery to buy my grapes? And more….
If you really want to consider getting into Texas grape growing, there are several sources information that you should use. One of the most expensive lessons is to fail because you did not have good information to help you through the potential pitfalls. Texas is not a palce like Napa valley that has a fairly constant climate and nearly a century of commercial experience with wine grape growing. We are still learning in Texas how to handle potential threats like winter and late spring freeze damage and have come a long way on issues like varietal selection to handling Pierce’s Disease and cotton root rot.
The following are suggested sources of up-to-date information on Texas grape growing and winemaking:
1. Join the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association (TWGGA) www.txwine.org – Network with growers and winemakers around the state and in your region. Their annual conference is mid-February in Dallas (http://www.txwines.org/conference/default.asp). They also have a Grape Camp workshop in November specifically for new growers with sessions also aimed at more experienced growers. The Grape Camp meeting is held informally in Fredericksburg the past several years and many of Texas’ vetern grape growers come to provide share their experiences (good and bad). Additionally, Texas has an increasing group of academics and experienced regional field extension personnel in the field of grape growing that will be there to answer your questions.
2. Join the Texas Winegrowers List Serve on Yahoo. It is run by Les Constable at Brushy Creek winery and allows grape growers and winemakers from around the state to network daily/weekly via the internet. More information at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Texas_Winegrowers/. This group works in the virtual space. Members all around the state of Texas ask questions and share their experiences with all aspects of grape growing. You can just lay low and just monitor te discussion and Q&A or actually get involved in the banter by posting your specific questions.
3. Check out the information at Texas A&M for Winegrowers – http://winegrapes.tamu.edu/grow/grapegrowing.html and information on the American Viticultural Areas (AVA’s) in Texas – http://txwineregions.tamu.edu/. These sites have more information than you can imagine on topics like: Grape growing, winemaking, technical resources, research, weather, communication and news.
4. Talk to winemakers and grape growers in your area. See Texas Department of Agriculture’s Texas winery list at: http://www.gotexanwine.org/findwinesandwineries/. This site provides links to all Texas wineries that participate in the GoTexan program so you can likely find a winery near you and call them directly. They may also know of someone already growing wine grapes for them or others on a spot near you. What better intel than information from someone growing in your area.
If you have any questions, I will be happy to help direct you to the right source of information to get you started.