This time of the year in grape growing country is anything but slow. Dormant pruning has been going on and now the late pruning is wrapping up. Dormant pruning is one of the most important activities in a vineyard. Pruning trims back some of the excess growth on the vines in order to facilitate the production of a quality crop.
Pruning should occur after the vine has been bare for at least a month, usually between December and bud break, which occurs in March. Pruning too early affects the vine’s absorption of nitrate nitrogen from the xylem liquid inside the thick woody stems. This nitrogen is needed in the vine for conversion in arginine for the upcoming growing season.
Pruned vines can be more susceptible to the cold, so waiting until just before spring bud break is the best time to do pruning of the vines. Obviously, there is a small window of opportunity for the growers.
Pruning and then training the vines helps to create great conditions for production by keeping the growth down and allowing the vine to put its energy toward fruiting.
All this so our wine will be just perfect when poured in our glass.
It appears that perhaps the danger of freeze is past for these grapevines in the High Plains. But, if you know anything about West Texas weather, you know that it is always changing and you can never out guess it. Plus, the Pink Moon is coming.
According to The Farmer’s Almanac, “A full Moon of Pink Moon in April brings frost. If the full Moon rises pale, expect rain.” A full moon is scheduled for April 11. Just a few days away. So, grape growers are casting a wary eye to the sky as they protect their precious commodity through one more period of possible danger.
But, while the mechanics of grape growing continue, there is more going on that affects the grape growing industry all across the state.
Members of the High Plains Winegrowers Association were in Austin on Tuesday, March 28 to testify before the Senate and the House concerning Senate Bill 951 and HB 2844. This bill, otherwise known as “Growers Permit,” seeks to allow a vineyard owner the ability to store wine at a permitted location while maintaining title to the product. Unlike most farm commodities, grapes are a perishable product and once picked must be processed into wine almost immediately.
This situation creates an unfavorable market for the vineyard owner and forces the grower to often sell at or below market cost. These bills would allow a vineyard owner to apply for and receive a TABC permit that would enable the grower to contract with a winery to make wine out of surplus grapes and store the wine to be sold at a future date.
These bills do not allow the holder of a growers permit to sell to the public or to a retail establishment. They may only sell to a winery.
A growers permit would establish a Texas bulk wine program, reducing the need for wineries to import from the West Coast. A system for fluid transfers between growers and full-fledged wineries in the sale of bulk wine is needed if the wine industry is to expand in Texas.
This bill is supported by the entire vineyard and winery industry.
Testifying before the Senate from the High Plains Winegrowers Association were HPWA President Andy Timmons representing Lubbock and Terry Counties, Elizabeth Hill, representing Hockley County, and Daniel Canada, representing Yoakum County. Stay tuned for more on this important issue.
High Plains wine events to put on your calendar:
High Plains Wine Weekend
April 27th – BarnBQ @ Texas Wine Company in Meadow, TX. This industry only event allows the growers, wineries, and industry professionals from all over the state to gather and visit and learn more about each other. Enjoy amazing Texas BBQ, bring your favorite bottle of Real Texas Wine, and get ready to have a great time! This year’s event will be held at the new Texas Wine Company located in Meadow, Texas. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
April 28th – Newsom Grape Day. This legendary, larger than life event draws growers, wineries, and industry professionals from all over Texas and the country! Neal Newsom brings in speakers who focus their topics on growing grapes, growing your wine business, and educating you with new industry trends. This is an event you do not want to miss. RSVP to email@example.com
April 29th – High Plains Winegrowers Soiree – Kick off your dusty boots and get fancied up for a night out on the town! The annual Soiree caps off the High Plains Wine weekend with elegance and style. Enjoy a five-course meal paired with Real Texas Wine in an elegant setting with growers, wineries, and industry professionals at the Eberly Brooks Event Center in Wolfforth. To attend this event, contact firstname.lastname@example.org