The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension and the Gulf Coast Wine Growers Association recently held the 27th annual Gulf Coast Field Day at the Cat Spring Agricultural Society Hall in Cat Spring, TX. Cat Spring is located a short drive southwest of Bellville. The Austin County Grape Growers Committee recently formed the Gulf Coast Wine Growers Association to better serve grape growers throughout the Texas Gulf Coast. This event serves the Austin County and surrounding areas’ wine grape growers by providing vineyard management education and a great opportunity for those in the business to network and share experiences.
The day-long event featured eight 40-minute sessions including:
- Vineyard Economics – Fran Pontasch and Jerry Watson presented some very insightful information about the process of starting a vineyard and the typical vineyard operational costs.
- Understanding your Fungicide Program – Justin Scheiner presented useful info about which fungicides to use and when to use them throughout the growing season.
- Fertilizer Materials and Applications – Fritz Westover of Westover Vineyard Advising shared the importance of soil and plant lab work and how to use the results to plan an efficient fertilizer program.
- Marketing – Meagan Miller spoke about her experiences in marketing through social media and gave some good tips on how to get started in social media marketing.
- Texas Grape Industry – George Ray McEachern shared some great stories and photos of his experiences in the Texas Grape Industry and how much the industry has grown over the past 30 years.
- Vineyard Irrigation Primer – Charles Swanson gave a comprehensive vineyard irrigation 101 session, which would be very helpful for those that are planning to plant new vines.
- Grapevine Trunk Diseases and Viruses – Sheila McBride and Dave Appel shared lots of great info about how to identify, prevent, and manage common grapevine diseases and viruses.
- Options for Controlling Pierce’s Disease – Jim Kamas and Bri Hoge presented an in-depth background about Pierce’s disease and shared some exciting news about new hybrid varieties being investigated. They are testing several high-percentage vinifera hybrid varieties that are showing promise in Texas. We even got to try a couple of wines made from them. I hope we’ll see some of these being planted in Texas in the not too distant future!
The agenda was broken up with a few breaks, giving attendees a chance to visit with the dozen or so vendors that co-sponsored the event. Attendees were kept happy with kolaches for breakfast as well as a barbecue lunch. The day wrapped up with a wine social, a great chance to try some of the wines made from grapes grown in the Texas Gulf Coast region.
I found all of the presentations to be very informative and a few quite entertaining. I feel that I now have a much better understanding about what it takes to grow grapes in the Texas Gulf Coast. With over one hundred attendees, many with invaluable knowledge to share, it’s a must attend event for anyone even thinking about growing grapes in the Texas Gulf Coast region.