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How climate change affects Texas winemakers

How climate change affects Texas winemakers

In recent years, the Lone Star State has seen record high summers and droughts that have followed record low winters and weeks of unprecedented ice and snow events. These extreme weather conditions have fueled the long-running debate about climate change as Texas Wine Month begins.

โ€œThese days, we are in constant danger of uncontrollable wildfires, floods, droughts, hurricanes, hurricanes and winter storms,โ€ says Veronica Meuse, wine buyer for small but adorable Saba San bottle shop. People cultivate the land.”

The wine industry is not at the top of any carbon footprint list when compared to other large industries, but adapting to climate change and, as a result, implementing sustainable winemaking and wine purchasing practices has become the norm. Texas wine brands have found unique ways to produce, adapt and support sustainable winemaking practices.

William Chris Vineyards – HI, Texas

Founded in 2008 in the Texas Hill Country by two of Texas’ most prominent winegrowers, William “Bill” Blackmun and Chris Brundrett, William Chris Vineyards has been a pioneer in the region’s winemaking since its opening, implementing unique technologies and with the strong support of local growers and vitiologists. .

The winery prides itself on using only grapes grown in Texas to produce their wine, all of which are made using a “low impact” method to ensure a high quality, sustainable product. Although they work with many varieties, William Criss is the main producer of Morphedry in the state.

โ€œClimate change is creating interesting opportunities for Texas wine growers,โ€ Brundrett says. โ€œWe are in a continental climate that is mostly influenced by weather from the Rocky Mountains as well as the Gulf of Mexico. For us, the 2021 vintage was one of the coolest on record with very nice spring rains. The 2022 wine turned out to be one of the warmest grapes on record. Both grape varieties represent Different challenges and it will be a completely different wine, which will be full of passion.This is one of the most amazing aspects of Texas wine, the ancient difference and how dynamic winemakers produce world class wine after booze.Forcing you to be open minded [so you can] Be successful.”

The vineyard testified that the cultivated varieties were working in their favour. Apart from vineyards, William Kress has implemented other sustainable initiatives. For example, by using sustainably sourced and fair-trade Amorim cork, they sequestered more than 116.4 tons of CO2 between January 2020 and April 2022.

“But it’s more than just physical resources,” Brundrett says. โ€œSustainability means a lot of different things to us. In terms of our team, whether we work hard or not give [them] It’s enough that we don’t support our team or the work that moves our industry forward – that’s just another aspect of sustainability. “

Lost Cloud Vaults – Fredericksburg, Texas

A highlight of sustainable Hill Country is Lost Draw Cellars, founded in Fredericksburg in 2012 by Andrew Sides, Troy Otmers and Andy Timmons. Lost Draw is committed to producing high-quality wine and showcasing the unique land of Texas through the use of 100% Texas-grown grapes, helping to reduce the use of gasoline, labor and other vital resources needed to ship grapes from elsewhere. Drawing sources were lost from their vineyards on the high plains of Texas as well as from other growers across the state.

The vineyards are grown with grapes that thrive in the region’s semi-arid climate, and the team is constantly striving to improve the growing process in a sustainable way to enhance the character and structure of their wines.

โ€œIn terms of wine growing, I think of sustainability in reference to our ability to grow grapes in a way that preserves both the vineyards and the natural resources that enables us to maintain consistency in our production over a long period of time,โ€ says Sides. The diverse choices and growing technologies of Texas have certainly been affected by climate change. We will never be perfect, but being able to adapt to our growing practices helps increase our chances of success.โ€

For Lost Draw, it is important to note that sustainability and conservation do not end at karma, as they are committed to identifying other areas to practice what they preach. From the making of each bottle to the method of shipping, they have implemented many initiatives dedicated to becoming more sustainable. For example, they now use tin capsules to place bottles on top of glass bottles and lighter glass to reduce the energy it takes to make and transport the bottles. They recently introduced a new 100% recyclable, non-toxic packaging made from paper and cornstarch to help reduce their carbon footprint.

Summer Revival Wine Company – Dripping Springs, Texas

Winemakers Ian and Becky Atkins, who recently made the transition from growing West Coast grapes to Hill Country, offer particularly unique insight into the impact of different climates on the process.

The owners of Flat Bream Winery in Oregon recently returned to their home state to join the growing Texas wine industry and formed a collaborative relationship with Hill Country growers, while observing the vineyards in order to name the Texas Summer Revival Wine. They discovered it was a world different from growing grapes in Oregon.

“The extreme heat and humidity of Texas is the first thing that comes to mind,” says Ian Atkins. โ€œDry farming is not really a viable option, but trying to use as little water as possible is always our top priority. We are also constantly working on new solutions to deal with fungi and mold that can form in vineyards after rains and in wet conditions.โ€

In Oregon, Atkins worked with vineyards treating their vines with mineral oil mixed with citrus oil as surfactantsโ€”compounds seen in daily use as cleaners, emulsifiers, foaming agents, or dispersantsโ€”and found them suitable as a fungicide. However, in Texas, the pressure of the fungus on the vines is more severe. This ongoing search for new sprinkler programs is an ongoing project for the couple, and it’s a challenge that will continue to evolve as climate changes.

Their work with Summer Revival has shown some promising results, with an effective pest management program showing a healthy grape farm free of pests and mites. Hill Country’s topsoil is very thin compared to Oregon, so weed management is no big deal, helping to reduce the need for herbicides and protect the surrounding ecosystem.

Alta Marfa Winery – Harbor, Texas

To the west, Alta Marfa Winery is making a name for itself despite climate change. They started growing vines in the Davis Mountains because of the favorable climate and altitude. At 5,400 feet above sea level, the area has some of the coldest climates in Texas, along with a dry climate that greatly reduces the risk of fungal diseases disturbing more wet areas, especially as temperatures rise and storms become more prevalent.

says Ricky Taylor, co-founder of Alta Harbor. “But the dry climate has proven challenging in its own way.”

Taylor, his wife, and business partner, Katie Jablonski, are constantly looking to adapt and find new ways to trap as much moisture in the soil as possible during the summer rainy season. They use sawdust around the vines to help reduce evaporation and maintain shallow soil moisture so a healthy microbiome can thrive. They also left all the native plants and herbs between the vines intact, and last winter they had sheep grazing in the vineyards to mow the lawn and provide compost to help build the soil. Converting native grasses into dung helps increase soil carbon over time, and also increases the soil’s water-holding capacity.

Alta marfa vines are trained as traditional shrub shrubs, which promote good airflow and reduce disease pressure while shading the fruit and the ground beneath the vines, both beneficial in hot climates.

VSP training (the method used in most vineyards) is designed to maximize photosynthesis in cold climates where grapes are difficult to ripen. But unlike the traditional return, Alta Marfa has no problem with grape ripening. In fact, they get so much sunlight and warmth that it is desirable to slow down ripening by reducing the plant’s ability to photosynthesise. Chrome Bosch is ideally suited for all of these purposes.

โ€œOur goal is to dry out our vineyards (no-irrigation farming) once our vineyards are established. Dry farming is the most environmentally friendly way to grow, but in a dry climate, innovation is essential to get the most rain return we get.โ€

As the Texas wine industry continues to grow, winemakers and vineyard scientists must continue to innovate and find ways to meet the challenges posed by an increasingly volatile climate to keep the region moving forward.

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