Amanda and Jason Veesart, along with his parents, are the proud growers at Veesart Vineyards in the Texas High Plains. The family established the vineyard in 2019 when they took over an existing vineyard. While the majority of the grapes are sold to winemakers around the state, a small portion is now held back to make their own Veesart wines. Our feature articles about grape growers have quickly gained interest and that’s in large part due to the energy of new growers such as the Veesart family.
- What did you do before growing grapes (if anything)?
Amanda and I still have full-time jobs. I work for a farm Chemical distributor and cover Texas and New Mexico.
- When did you first plant your vineyard, and how many acres did you start with?
We took over an existing vineyard that was about to be abandoned. It was 46 acres with 12 varieties.
- How many acres do you have today, and what grapes are planted?
Today we’re at 45 acres with 12 varieties. We took out three acres of Tinta Cao that just wouldn’t perform and planted two acres of Mourvèdre. We currently grow: Orange Muscat, Aglianico, Souzão, Sangiovese, Montepulciano, Dolcetto, Cabernet Sauvignon, Albariño, Syrah, Touriga Nacional, Mourvèdre, and Viognier.
- Do you farm any other crops? And if so, what?
We don’t farm any other crops.
- What first attracted you to growing grapes?
It’s always intrigued me. I was the Agronomy Manager at Brownfield Farmers Coop 15-20 years ago and watched many of the growers in Terry County plant grapes for the first time. Many thought they were crazy, but I thought they were innovative. I wanted to be part of that group. There were a handful of those growers that have been mentors to me, and I can’t thank them enough.
- What is the toughest challenge about being a grape grower in Texas?
For us, it’s the late freezes. Our typical budbreak starts in mid-March and any freeze after that can be very damaging. This year our Albariño took a hit when we got down to 25 degrees the second week of April. We probably lost 80% of our yield on that block.
- If you didn’t grow grapes, what would you do?
I really enjoy my “normal” job and can’t imagine doing anything else.
- After a long day in the vineyard, what do you like to do?
Of course, the first answer – is drink a glass of wine. But for the most part, we try to travel in our down time. It’s a great big world and I want to see as much of it as I can.
- What’s the best part about being a grape grower?
It’s very satisfying. It’s hard work and stressful at times but when you see a bottle with your name on it, you get a huge sense of accomplishment.
- What advice would you give someone wanting to start a vineyard today?
Do your homework and start small. Listen to those that have been there and done that. Meet as many people as you can. This is a small industry that’s built on relationships.