Organic Vineyard Practices: missing from Texas? Growers speak up.

Update: Bingham Vineyards has organic practices implemented in their Panhandle vineyards.

The Binghams

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.

See Video

Coming up: 2009 San Antonio Wine Competition Jan. 31, 2009 See last year’s winners

See who will take the top spots for this year’s competition in 2009. Details here All national and international professional wineries are encouraged to compete. 40 Categories. Tickets purchased online prior to February 13 will be mailed to you.  After that time, they will be available at the event Will Call. Fine Wine & Cuisine Tasting are also available at the customer service desk at any area H-E-B store through Sunday, February 22 for $40. Tickets for all events are available by contacting KLRN at 210-270-9000.

See last years’s 328 Medal Winners from the San Antonio Wine Competition sponsored by KRLN & HEB. 25 judges tasted 590 entries. Wines from CA, TX, WA, OR, South American, Australia, Italy, France, Eastern Europe, and more. See winners here.

Considering starting a vineyard in Texas?

More and more I am speaking with individuals looking to retire into a hobby vineyard project or commercial grape growing operation. Texas has more than 220 family-owned vineyards covering 3,100 acres (according to a 2007 study by MKF in conjunction with the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association and Texas Tech University) and increasing awareness is furthering Texas’ reputation for producing high quality grapes and wines. The Texas community brings a reputation for continued perseverance and willingness to further educational, marketing and legislative activities making Texas the 5th largest producing wine state in the nation.

If you are considering buying or starting a vineyard in Texas I hope to be your resource for not only your real estate needs but also your go to for information on the Texas wine/vineyard community. Additionally, my exclusive connection with a soil consultant/agronomist can help foster your investment into a results driven, sustainable, high yield operation by using a multi-faceted environmental approach in viticulture practice for your property. Custom soil, water and plant testing analysis can determine the proper approach for using amendments to increase fertility, conserve water 50% or more, as well as help determine the best varietals for your soils. Programs can be tailored to fit any level of investment with continual monitoring and sampling to maximize results.

2009 ANNUAL CONFERENCE & TRADE SHOW of Texas Wine & Grape Growers Association

TWGGA Annual Conference
Where: Doubletree Hotel
When: Thursday, February 19th through Saturday, February 21st.

What: This annual event hosted by the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association is an opportunity to network with the Texas wine industry. Programming includes vineyard and winery seminars, trade show and Texas wine paired dining experiences. The conference concludes with the Annual Gala and Industry Auction which features wine from every region of Texas

During the Annual Conference the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association each year the Association gives out 5 awards to industry members for various achievements.

Join TWGGA if you are intested in:

  • Starting a Commercial Winery
  • Starting a Commercial Vineyard
  • Non-commercial winemaking
  • Food & Wine pairing
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