Friday, April 26, was the annual Newsom Grape Day held at Neal Newsom’s barnery or barn for those who didn’t read my post on visiting Newsom Vineyards. Reading the post also is a good introduction to one of the best High Plains grape growers.
The seminars for this year’s event were:
- Mechanized Balanced Cropping: A Strategy to Reduce Crop Loss from Adverse Weather Conditions by Dr. Keith Striegler from Flint Ridge Winegrowing Services
- Clarification of Unfermented White Juice Using Flotation by Greg Bruni from Llano Estacado Winery
- Tempranillo on the High Plains by Neal Newsom
- Alternative Grape Varieties by Dr. Ed Hellman from Texas A&M AgriLife and Texas Tech University
- A Viticulturist’s Perspective on Grapevine Virus Problems and Solutions by Dr. Keith Striegler from Flint Ridge Winegrowing Services
Upon registering at the barnery I met Neal Newsom along with his wife Janice and son Nolan. People consistently arrived and Neal said he expected 200 people. At the end of the day it turned out to be 220 people. Everybody who arrived enjoyed meeting old friends with the networking which also is very important at events like this. In fact people had so much fun meeting and talking with others that the day’s seminars started about 30 minutes late.
I enjoyed meeting people who I had seen before either at their wineries or at previous Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association (TWGGA) events. I also had the chance to meet some new people who I knew by name but never had the chance to meet. We were asked to bring a bottle of Texas wine for quality control and also to get us into the VIP section (wherever that was). The tables which were set up to hold the wines were getting full with wine bottles and there was a wide variety of wineries and wines represented.
Neal welcomed everybody and soon Dr. Keith Striegler began his presentation on Mechanized Balanced Cropping. In summary, balanced cropping by machine resulted in more consistent and predictable yields, improved fruit quality, reduced employee turnover rate, and improved employee working conditions.
After a little break Greg Bruni from Llano Estacado Winery gave his presentation on clarification of unfermented white juice using flotation. Juice clarification is an important step in white wine making and is easier in some years than others. The method of juice clarification chosen should be based on speed of clarification, degree of clarity, and cost of the process.
Since we were caught up on time, Neal Newsom gave his presentation before lunch on growing Tempranillo on the High Plains. There were many questions for Neal on growing in general in addition to Tempranillo questions.
The Newsom Scholarship recipients were then presented before lunch. A silent auction was held during the day to help with the Newsom Scholarship fund.
A wonderful barbecue lunch was presented by 2-B Ranch and sponsored by Vintage Nurseries. During lunch people migrated to the wine tasting tables and enjoyed the different wines brought to taste. Also during lunch was a fantastic concert by the Bingham Orchestra, family members of Cliff and Betty Bingham.
Tasting wines during lunch also led to more networking and I was able to meet people I have only written about before like Mike and Barbara Paddack from Fort Collins, Colorado, who own the La Pradera Vineyard and is managed by Andy Timmons. I was also able to meet Gary Sowder, new co-owner of Cap*Rock Winery. After talking to Gary and learning of their plans for the winery such as only putting the Cap*Rock label on Texas wines, I was very excited as to the wines we’ll be seeing from Cap*Rock Winery.
The next seminar was Alternate Grape Varieties given by Dr. Ed Hellman. He talked about different grape varieties which could be grown in Texas and in fact some vineyards are growing small quantities of the grapes he discussed. Finally was a seminar on grape vine virus problems and the solutions available given by Dr. Keith Striegler.
After the day’s seminars, a private dinner was held at the Newsom’s favorite Mexican restaurant with one of the primary reasons are they let people bring in their own wine. Inland Desert Nurseries sponsored the dinner. After a delicious dinner, some people returned to the barnery to socialize. Those remaining in the barnery had a great time talking and of course tasting more Texas wine.
Neal Newsom holds his Grape Day usually on the last Friday of April every year so be sure to put it on the calendar for next year!