Viticulture In Texas
Texas winemaking has a long and rich heritage. The earliest vineyard in North America was established in Texas by Franciscan priests circa 1662 along the Rio Grande near present day El Paso. The Val Verde Winery established in 1883 in Del Rio is the longest operating winery in Texas, surviving prohibition by selling table grapes and wines for church sacramental purposes.
Currently Texas is the fifth-largest wine producing state in the nation with more than 350 wineries and approximately 4,000 acres of producing vineyard farmland. The industry provides over 11,000 full time jobs and contributes more than $1.88 billion of economic value to the State of Texas. More than 1.6 million tourists visit Texas wineries each year.
Texas has eight American Viticultural Areas (AVAs), which are designated wine grape-growing regions in the United States with boundaries defined by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau; however, many vineyards exist outside the specified AVAs. The Texas Hill Country AVA is the second largest in the country with more than nine million acres.
If you are looking to purchase land for a vineyard in the Texas Hill Country, there are many items to consider before purchasing land for your future vineyard. Of primary concern are four things: soil, water, climate and location.
- Soil: Soil and soil types will play critical roles in the health of your vines and production. Although grapevines can be grown in a variety of soil types, you will need to pay particular attention to depth, pH and salinity, drainage, fertility and water retention.
- Water: You will need to consider water availability and distribution, as well as water quality. Since rain can be sporadic, irrigation is required to supplement natural rainfall. Undesirable water quality can lead to poor soil and poor yields.
- Climate: When we refer to climate, we are really referring to the macroclimate that will determine the types of grapes you grow, the mesoclimate that refers to the local traits of your site, and the microclimate which refers to the area between the soil and the canopy of the vines.
- Location: There are many aspects to consider with respect to location, including proximity to other vineyards, adequacy of access, agricultural or commercial restrictions, and tract shape and size. When choosing your site, aspects such as elevation, slope and drainage need to be considered when determining how you will improve your land. If you plan to focus on commercial traffic and wine tasting, then the property needs to have sufficient room for parking and local liquor laws will need to be considered.
In your search for property, it is important to select a real estate agent who has local knowledge. A knowledgeable agent can help you locate the right piece of property and obtain answers to important questions.
Sources: Texas Department of Agriculture, Texas Wine & Grape Growers Association, Texas Wine Trail, Texas Winegrape Network, edible Austin, November 17, 2015