Nature

How Will This Winter’s Frigid Temperatures Impact Texas Wines?

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With the below normal temperatures that Texas has been experiencing this winter, wine lovers have been wringing their hands and wiping their brows over the fate of Texas’ vineyards. How does the colder-than-normal winter weather impact Texas’ wine industry? Will you notice fewer Texas wines on the shelves of your local stores as a result of the colder weather?

Good News for Wine Lovers, Bad News For Sharpshooters

Texas wine lovers

Photo: Unsplash/Kym Ellis

There’s good news for lovers of Texas wines. It turns out that the colder temperatures may actually help Texas grape-growers. Jim Kamas, associate professor and Texas A&M Agrilife Extension fruit specialist, explained to KXAN news that “these colder temperatures may kill off pests like the glassy-winged sharpshooters. The sharpshooters are the insect believed to be behind the rise in Pierce’s disease in Texas vineyards.”

Kamas explained that in 1996 and 1997, “every vineyard in the Hill Country — every single one — had the disease and it was killing vineyards.”

The drought Texas experienced in 2011 killed off many of the insects that cause Pierce’s disease, and the disease was in decline in Texas. Unfortunately, the last year and a half has proven to be a wetter climate in Texas’ wine regions, so more cases of Pierce’s disease have presented in the grape crops.

The good news about our cold winter is that the freezes that we’ve experienced reduce bacteria on the grape vines which aides greatly in grape production.

Grape Vines Have Built-In Defense

Texas wines

Photo: Unsplash/Karsten Wurth

More good news: Grapes are actually fairly well-equipped to handle freezing temperatures, and healthy vines are a vineyard’s best defense. Grape vines store energy in the form of sugar from photosynthesis. This sugar acts as a type of “antifreeze,” for the vines during extremely cold weather.  

Taking Up The Slack for Fire-Ravaged California Wine Region

California vineyards

Photo: Unsplash/Filippo Andolfatto

So, if Texas has an above average grape-growing season, this might help to take up some of the slack from the fire-ravaged California wine region. Damage estimates from Northern California’s deadly wildfires top $3 billion — and that number is expected to grow.

California wineries were hit particularly hard with more than 30 destroyed or damaged after the fires broke out at the end of 2017. A Napa Valley trade group says that (luckily) “90 percent of this year’s grapes were harvested before the fires started but the wine tourism industry in California has been impacted.”