Grape harvest in the Texas High Plains is well underway. Lights can be seen as harvesters run at night and in the early morning hours. The cool evening and early morning temperatures are ideal for harvesting, and ensuring the fruit arrives at its processing destination in prime shape.
While there has been a terrible drought going on across much of Texas, including the High Plains, the grapes have come through fairly well. Most all, if not all vineyards in the area have a drip irrigation system of some sort to keep water available when the stress of high summer temperatures and lack of moisture shows up. But, these higher temperatures and somewhat dry climate conditions are a couple of things that make the High Plains the ideal area for growing wine grapes.
Knowing when to start harvesting your wine grapes is not an exact science, but it is close. Part of it is just looking and knowing. Of course, it takes a few years of experience and the help of seasoned grape growers to begin to have that knack for being able to “just know” when the time is about right.
When you get the feeling that your grapes are beginning to be close to harvest, samples are taken across the vineyard. The fruit is carried to the labs to be tested for pH level and for brix levels. The pH is the acidity and brix is the sugars.
Brix is a tool used to measure the potential alcohol content by using the sugar level. A gram of sugar translates to a 1/2 gram of alcohol, more or less.
The pH of wine is key. It falls right after sugars in importance in creating a quality wine. A variation in pH makes a wine drinkable and award winning, or one that belongs down the drain.
These can also be adjusted at the winery during the processing but each step adds additional cost, which no one wants.
White grapes generally are ready for harvest earlier. They bud break earlier, as well. Muscat Canelli, Albariño, and Viognier are among those that are first to be harvested on the High Plains.
The two main local processors, Texas Custom Wine Works and Texas Wine Company have been busy, working almost around the clock as producers bring in their grapes. Both of these companies have already developed a reputation as being quality processors and winemakers.
As far as this year’s harvest is concerned, it appears that while the tonnage may be lighter than desired in many vineyards, the quality is more than making up for that. The berries are loaded with the goodness that makes Texas High Plains wine growers the best around.
Enjoy a glass of Texas High Plains wine today and celebrate the harvest!