Feb 232011
 

It’s Time to Step Up to the Plate for Texas Wine: The Texas “Great Vineyards” Program

Despite the fact that the Texas Department of Agriculture is facing the possible budget-whacking elimination of its economic support for its research, field work and marketing for the Texas wine industry, when it comes to advancing our wine industry, things are still going great guns down here in Texas.

A new program was announced that aims to help increase Texas wine quality from the ground up….that’s right, out in the vineyard. It’s now spring when everyone’s interest is turning to baseball with spring training at hand. It’s also time for Texas winegrowers to step up to the plate and swing for the fences, too.

Today, the Texas AgriLife Extension Viticulture Team launched a major new effort to support the continued growth and improvement of the Texas wine industry – the Great Vineyards Program.

According to Dr. Ed Hellman, Professor of Viticulture and Extension Specialist at Texas AgriLife Extension and Texas Tech University, “The purpose of the AgriLife Extension Great Vineyards Program is to help Texas grape producers improve the productivity and fruit quality of their vineyards.  Vineyards are assessed, either by the producer alone or with assistance from an AgriLife Viticulture Adviser, using a set of vineyard assessment forms.   A customized management plan is developed focused on improvement of vineyard characteristics identified in the assessment.”

Assessment is conducted by systematically evaluating vineyard characteristics that individually and collectively contribute to vineyard performance based on objective criteria generally regarded as excellent vineyard characteristics. As a guide to vineyard performance, a rating is assigned based on the percentage of positive responses; 90-100% is considered Excellent and 80-89% is Commendable.

Dr. Hellman said, “The key to the program is development and execution of the management plan to improve vineyard performance.  The ultimate outcome should be a great vineyard that produces consistently good yields of high quality fruit.”

Vineyards can participate in the program one of two ways:

1. Vineyard assessment is conducted by the regional AgriLife Viticulture Adviser who also develops a customized management plan for vineyard improvement.  (Fee required*)

2. Vineyard assessment is conducted by the vineyard manager who is encouraged to consult with regional AgriLife Viticulture Adviser on specific actions to include in their management plan to improve vineyard performance.

Great Vineyards assessment forms are available for download on the Texas Winegrape Network Website.

Dr. Hellman continued, “I believe this program can help all participants improve the performance of their vineyards.  I encourage [Texas winegrowers] to contact [their] regional Viticulture Adviser as soon as possible if you want to participate in the Great Vineyards Program.   We are also happy to answer any questions you may have about the program.”

For more information on services and fees: Phone: 806-746-6101; Fax: 806-746-6528; Website: http://winegrapes.tamu.edu

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