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Grape Expectations: Texas Wine Boon Expected From Record 2018 Harvest Forecast

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According to recent reports, producers are feeling positive about 2018’s production levels in the Texas wine industry, which look like they could outshine last year’s outstanding performance. Wine has become a $13 billion industry in the Lone Star State, and 2017 saw Texas produce 1.8 million cases of wine – a record to date. This year is already looking like it could out-shine that.

Industry observers were taken by surprise with Texas’ totals when Wine America produced a state by state detailed report on the industry for 2017. Just three decades ago, there were only roughly two dozen wineries in Texas, which is now home to hundreds. However, the production of wine in Texas isn’t a fly-by-night franchise operation – it’s been happening here since the 1600s.

Grape Expectations: Texas Wine Boon Expected From Record 2018 Harvest Forecast

Photo: Facebook/Randy Bissell

According to Brianna Hoge, Viticulture Program Specialist for the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension, wine making in Texas dates back to vines which were established by Franciscan priests who began cultivating them in the 17th century. Both German and Spanish immigrants to Texas also made wine here in the 19th century, at the end of which, Hoge says, grape vines from Texas were known to have helped save the wine industry in France. At the time, their vines were being overwhelmed by a disease called phylloxera. “We sent them root stalks essentially.  And now most grapes are grafted with phylloxera resistance with some of that early stalk.  Which I think is super cool,” Hoge explained.

Grape Expectations: Texas Wine Boon Expected From Record 2018 Harvest Forecast

Photo: Facebook/Richard’s Garden Center, LLC.

As the Viticulture Program Specialist for the university, part of Hoge’s job includes helping Texans to effectively start vineyards – because growing grapes in the Lone Star State isn’t necessarily as easy as it sounds. “We’ll start from the beginning, you know like, ‘Let’s see your site. Let’s see your concerns about water drainage and do you have the right soil types and do you need to amend your soil?  What type of water do you have?’ ‘Cause that matters around here too,” she stated. One such producer she’s recently assisted is Rancho Loma Vineyards, located in between the Texas Hill Country and the High Plains regions, near Coleman. Here, Vineyard Manager Josh Davis is in charge of three acres that were planted last year. Their location appears to have avoided two major weather issues – the harsh winters of the High Plains and the humidity of the Hill Country. And, with the sandy soil in their location, he feels there’s the potential they’ve found a considerable sweet spot for grape growing.

Grape Expectations: Texas Wine Boon Expected From Record 2018 Harvest Forecast
Photo: Facebook/Rancho Loma Vineyards

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