Update: Bingham Vineyards has organic practices implemented in their Panhandle vineyards.
Texas vineyards, as a whole, are managed under conventional practices. I don’t know of any growers in Texas who are certified organic growers. In fact, the general cultural attitude points to a rejection of organic practices, with established winemakers and growers claiming it is just not possible with the challenges of Pierce’s disease and humidity issues like powdery mildew. I wonder how much this cultural rejection of organic practices is founded in experimentation and which institutions and researchers are touting conventional practices as the only way to go. One has to imagine organic methods have been employed in some Texas vineyards with success. Are there really insurmountable challenges with disease and pests for which organic practices cannot conquer or is something with the health of the vines and soil from the depletion of minerals and pollution from the conventional methods?
I have a lot of respect for experienced growers and vineyard managers. I am sure there are conventional practices based on proven research from the large institutions which in application revolutionized some areas of viticulture in Texas. My critique to the industry experts is the prolific rejection of the feasibility of organic and/or bio-dynamic. Also, when talking with these experts it is hard to know the results of their proposed practices in the commercial vineyards. How do you measure the techniques and practices in terms of vineyard health, fruit quality, vine life and general environmental harmony outside of the research lab? Where are their vineyards to prove results? What happens if they are wrong? Nothing. They still have a job connected to an extension service or research & teaching post. Where is the accountability to the growers bottom line?
This is a great video of a casual discussion with vineyard manager, Warren Burton from Grist Vineyard in Dry Creek Valley, CA.
I would like to see more of these practices embraced in our Texas vineyards. Further, I would like to see a cultural shift in acceptance toward bio dynamic and proven organic farming techniques embraced as a viable choice.
The video demonstrates use of general organic practices including managing powdery mildew, using cover crops to increase soil health, weather and water management, and removing foliage after bud set.