In Texas, 2010 is Stacking Up to be the "Vintage of the Century"

In Texas, 2010 is Stacking Up to be the “Vintage of the Century”

Texan winegrowers have been so shell shocked over the past several years, it seems like nobody wants to talk about the way things are going in the 2010 Vintage…..afraid to jinx things, perhaps.

For the past several years, it has been combinations of late spring freezes, early summer hail, or harvest time rain that has decimated  the Texas crop of wine grapes. I was on the high plains near Lubbock and adjoining Brownfield, Texas, Terry County actually, in late March 2009 when I witnessed the temperature dropped to 21 F with a 40 mph wind. This wave of nasty cold air followed two weeks of warm weather in the seventies that screamed to the vines, “Wake the Hell Up!”. The blast from the north froze and desiccated tender new tendrils, buds, shoots and all,  as the wave of nasty cold air pushed across the state.

This year of 2010 started with a completely different story. The winter was deep and cold, keeping the vine sleeping like babies in the Texas vineyards. As spring started, it stayed cold and this was followed by what many Texas winegrowers called “a long slow Spring season”. As the weather progressively warmed, the vines awoke and started to push out buds, shoots and finally grapes; lots of grapes, bunches upon bunches upon bunches of grapes. The 2010 crop looked to be a good one, but growers were afraid to say much, as they knew that hail season in Texas doesn’t reach its peak until late May or June. It only takes one good hail to strip the vines of their precious fruit.

Finally, June passed and guess what? No major hail events, but the wine growers were still silent as they knew that late summer rains could bring rot and fungal pressures to their Texas vineyards. Well, so far the Texas grape crop has managed to survive mainly unscathed as the cool damp early summer turned hot and dry, something winegrowers, as much as grapes themselves, simply love. Hot dry conditions result in concentration of the juices within the grape berries leading to a concentration of flavors in the grapes.

With many of the grapes already harvested and rave reviews on their quantities and qualities are coming in from winemakers across the state of Texas the question is….Could it get any better? Pinch me, I must be dreaming…Is this really Texas?

Well this morning, reports are coming in from the Texas High Plains AVA, that many call the premium grape-growing region in Texas; about the only region in the state that has not completed their harvest. Mostly, they are awaiting the red wine grapes to finish ripening.  The reports are that nighttime temperatures are falling into the low fifties in most of the region with some reports of forties to the northern end. This set of conditions (warm days and cool nights) will result in increased hang time for the grapes leading to even more intense and nuanced flavors.

In the words of Bobby Cox, Texas High Plains viticulturalist, “Can you spell F-L-A-V-O-R? Our reds are going to be wonderful this year!”

It may be time to start buying futures in Texas red wines. Maybe this is a stretch, but at least let’s hope that this is just the start of a string of good vintages for Texas wine grapes that puts to rest the string of bad weather years that the Texas wine industry has had recently.

OK everybody, its time to repeat after me, “Vintage of the Century” for Texas!

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  1. This question is usually meant to be in jest, but in all sincerity, didn’t you write this about the 2009 vintage?

  2. Nope! I saw the devistation of the spring freeze of 2009 first hand.

    The was only a small crop but there were some good wines made from the 2009 vintage.

    This year has the combination of high quality and quantity.


  3. I wrote several posts on 2009. Check out the following:

    Spring Freeze:

    Best of 2009 Texas Wines: (not 2009 Vintage)

    Just to mention a couple.

    P.S. Check out recent post on Becker Vineyards Provençal Rosé 2009:; A list of Texas wines tasted in 2010 is given in (notice that there are darn few 2009 Texas wines on the list – I think this is mainly due to the Texas grape shortage and not so much lack of quality in 2009).



  4. I tend to interpret “vintage of the century” comments and similar claims in terms of quality, but not so much quantity. Do you have opinions on the quality of 2009 vs. 2010 for the various growing areas in Texas? How about tackling a vintage chart for the last ten or so years in Texas wine regions? I realize many believe vintage charts are more misleading than worthwhile, still most wine writers even after demeaning the concept will each year judge each region’s quality in overall terms. Thanks for your kind replies.

    • The quality in 2009 was generally assessed as high, but the extreme shortage of grapes caused in large part by the freeze was in the 30 percentile range in terms of quantity. Therefore, many wineries could not get the Texas fruit they needed and therefore, went to out of state sources for their grapes.

      In Texas, we are just trying to get a wine quality program established that would set a minimum bar for its quality wines based on both analytics and tasting, and after that perhaps it can tackle the project you mentioned.


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