“How Do You Make A Small Fortune in the Wine Business? Start with a large one.” -unknown

Fortunately, in Texas it takes less investment in real estate to get there but it is no less of an investment in time, plants, equipment and labor. Wine & Vineyards are businesses built on passion, long term vision and determination against all odds, including mother nature.

It is possible to make money in the wine business. But how did they get from A to B? Let’s see. Texas has all the right mixes of tourism, state pride, fervor for locally made products and a wide demographic of wine drinkers.

Actually, the market for Texas wine exists with little product to fulfill the under served demand. We have plenty of folks to consume the product and can expand in depth to fulfill the likes of sophisticated wine drinkers to casual consumers.Texas doesn’t even have to sell wine beyond the state lines to be more successful.

Lots of negative talk about staring a vineyard from mainstream educational institutions? If you have ever attended an introductory seminar are staring a vineyard or getting into the wine business, most likely you were persuaded how hard and risky it can be. But were you shown how to take the next step?

The first step isn’t being an expert. The first step is meeting the real world on the ground hands on the vine experts and learning from their mistakes. Reach out an meet a Texas viticulturist. They will probably invite you to come share in the work to learn the ropes.

The next step would be to identify local and soil types of available property for sale.

While few vineyards have achieved full sustainability it is possible to incorporated sustainable operations into vineyard and winery management with sustainability as a long term goal to strive for and keep the bottom line increasing. (Sustainable agriculture integrates three main goals: environmental stewardship, farm profitability, and prosperous farming communities. These goals have been defined by a variety of disciplines and may be looked at from the vantage point of the farmer or the consumer.)
See http://www.winebusiness.com/wbm/?go=getArticle&dataId=18032

The main areas of vineyard sustainably management are:
• Viticulture
• Soil Management
• Vineyard Water Management
• Pest Management
• Wine Quality
• Food Safety and Security
• Ecosystems Management
• Energy Efficiency
• Winery Water Conservation & Water Quality
• Materials Handling
• Solid Waste Reduction & Management
• Environmentally Preferred Purchasing
• Human Resources
• Neighbors and Communities

Crop land values to stay steady and increase in demand in Texas
The latest Tierra Grande assessed land values of productive farming land and looked at prices adjusted for inflation. They found productive land to increase in value over the last 8 years with a continuing increase in demand while other real estate such as residential and commercial held flat. http://recenter.tamu.edu/pdf/1904.pdf

Land prices range from approx. $4,000+/acre in Mason County, McCullough, San Saba, to $10,000+/acre in Gillespie and Blaco, to $20,000+/acre in parts of Hays County, Kendall and Llano.

Starting a Vineyard- continued

Age of vine before producing useful grapes—3 years (3rd leaf)

Age of vine before full production—5 years (5th leaf)

Productive lifetime of a vine—25-35 years—Although the quality can remain good, the yield begins to decrease after that…though some varieties like Zinfandel can be up to 75 years – 1 century old

Grape clusters in bottle—4-5

Grapes in a bottle—500-600

Clusters on a vine—40

Grapes in a cluster—4–100

Grape clusters in one glass of wine—1

Vines per acre—500-1300

(see sample study on yields http://www.ajevonline.org/ Keyword: yield)

Pounds of grapes produced by one vine—4-12

Harvest Tons per acre—2-14 (average—can vary greatly across varietals depending on cultivar, vine spacing and canopy management practices) Texas average is: 2-3 tons/acre

(2,000 lbs = 1 ton)

Gallons of wine per ton of grapes—120

Gallons of wine per acre—less than 500

Barrels per acre— around 13

Bottles per vine—4-6

Bottles per ton—500—700

Bottles per acre—4,000

Cases per barrel—24.6

Glasses per acre—16,000

Glasses in a bottle—5-6

Bottles per 60 gallon barrel—300

Texas Price per ton and statistics http://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/Texas/Publications/pr11409.pdf

Texas planted acres as of Jan. 2009:  2,500 acres, (450 not mature) (down from 2,900)

Texas average price paid per ton: $1200( ranging $730-$2100)

Cost per acre of new vineyard $20,000 – $30,000 acre

Cost per acre of raw land in Texas AVAs $3,000-30,000 per acre

Grape Vines per acre 500-1,300 (10×6 or 10×8 or 8×5 spacing?)

Cost per new vine plant $2-10 each

Soil amendments per acre – $1,000-$2,000 (initial set up, + 1-5 years of maintenance in beginning)

Soil ripping and site preparation: ?

Steel T-posts $8-30 each and Drill pipe for end posts ($ ?)

Drip Irrigation system $1,200 per acre

Frost Protection system – $1,000 per acre

Wind machines ?

Deer/Exotic Game Perimeter fence ?

Labor – $9-12/hour + transportation

Get Your Tickets for the 23rd Annual TX Hill Country Wine & Food Festival

txwinefest1The Wine Event of the Year: Texas Hill Country Wine and Food Festival

It’s that time again! Time for a the wildflowers to start popping up and for planning day trips around the Hill Country to stop and enjoy the Texas wine experience.

Get your tickets early to assure you can attend the best events. They always sell out quickly!

Advance registration is available at: http://www.texaswineandfood.org

Thursday: April 16, 2009

Savor The Hill Country Winery Luncheons
12:00 PM – 2:00 PM

There’s no place like the Texas Hill Country in the Spring – and at each of these three wineries, wildflowers run riot creating the perfect backdrop for the vines. Each winery has a unique and special setting in which to enjoy this leisurely multi-course luncheon. Well-known Texas chefs will create delicious dishes paired to Texas wines. Both host and guest winemakers will talk about their wines, and the challenges of being a winemaker in Texas.

Select the event you would like to attend:

Becker Vineyards
12:00 PM – 2:00 PM
Chefs: Leu Savanh, Melissa Southern, Ross Burtwell Restaurants: August E’s, Cabernet Grill, Rails Revuelle Wineries: Becker Vineyards, Brennan Vineyards, Grape Creek Vineyards, McPherson Cellars

Fall Creek Vineyards
12:00 PM – 2:00 PM
Chefs: Brian Luscher, Jamie Gutierrez , Josh Watkins, Kent Rathbun Restaurants: Abacus, III Forks Steakhouse, The Carillon at AT & T Conference Center, The Grape Wineries: Fall Creek Vineyards, Llano Estacado Winery, Peregrine Hill Vineyards & Winery

Stone House Vineyard
12:00 PM – 2:00 PM
Chefs: Jeff Blank, Rebecca Rather Restaurants: Hudson’s on the Bend, Rather Sweet Bakery Wineries: Flat Creek Estate, Lost Creek Vineyards, Spicewood Vineyards, Stone House Vineyard Winery Principals: Angela Downer Moench, Rick & Madelyn Naber

Friday, April 17, 2009

Where Terroir Meets Tradition
12:00 PM – 1:30 PM
AT&T Conference Center & Hotel, Classroom 101  $50.00

Texas has a wealth of cultural and culinary influences: the indigenous Mexican population, the predominantly German pioneers of the mid 1800’s, the Creole and Cajun influences of Southeast Texas, the cowboy cooks, the more recent influx of Asian and African migrants – all have made their mark in this great State. This seminar offers a chance to connect the dots by pairing these distinct cuisines with the wines of Texas.

AT&T Conference Center & Hotel, Classroom 101

Josh Watkins, Paul Petersen

The Carrilon , The Gage Hotel

Alamosa Wine Cellars, Becker Vineyards, Fall Creek Vineyards, Llano Estacado Winery, McPherson Cellars, Messina Hof Winery, Pheasant Ridge Winery, Texas Hills Vineyard

Stars Across Texas
7:00 PM – 10:00 PM
The Long Center for the Performing Arts  $100.00

Enjoy an evening under the stars while you savor the signature dishes of some of Texas’ best known restaurants and taste the showcase wines of festival guest and Texas wineries. This Grand Tasting is considered the premier wine and food event in Austin and, with the move to the terrace of the Long Center, the event promises to enchant and delight. Chill out in the VIP lounge (an add-on ticket for $40) a luxurious refuge with wines and cocktails from Moet Hennessy, and food provided exclusively for VIP patrons by Aquarelle, Parkside, JohnTesar (formerly of the Mansion on Turtle Creek) and Zoot Restaurant.

The Long Center for the Performing Arts

Antonio Vidal, Carlos Capistran , Dave Hermann, David Bull, Efisio Farris, Elmar Prambs, Emmett Fox, George Thomas, Graham Mitchell, Harvey Harris, Jason Dady, Jeff Blank, Jeffrey Balfour, John Brand, John Tesar, John Tesar, Josh Raymer, Josh Watkins, Kent Rathbun, Kevin Williamson, Larry Perdido, Leu Savanh, Lisa Fox, Margarito Machado, Mark Chapman, Mark Dayanandan, Michael Dei Maggi, Octavia Benavides, Paul Petersen, Peter Lindquist, Randy Morgan, Ravi Nage, Robbin Murphy, Stewart Scruggs, Teresa Wilson, Todd Duplechan, Tomme Johnson, Tony Sansalone, Tyson Cole

Frans Hendriks, Tom Pedersen

Pastry Chefs:
Aimee Olson, Christina Hernandez, Tony Sansalone

1886 Café and Bakery at the Driskill Hotel, Aquarelle Restaurant Francais, Arcodoro Houston/Dallas, ASTI Trattoria, August E’s, Carmelo’s Ristorante, Citrus at Hotel Valencia, Dallas Fish Market, Driskill Grill, Eddie V’s Edgewater Grille, Finn and Porter, FINO Restaurant Patio & Bar, Hilton Austin, Hudson’s on the Bend, Imperia, Jaspers Restaurant, Las Canarias Restaurant at La Mansion Del Rio, Maria Maria, Max’s Wine Dive, Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill, Navajo Grill, NoRTH Modern Italian, Ranch 616, Siena Ristorante Toscana, Tèo Italian Coffee and Gelato, Texas Culinary Academy, The Carrilon , The Gage Hotel, The Grill at Leon Springs, The Lodge Restaurant, The Range at Barton House, TRIO, Uchi, Ventana, Zoot

Texas Companies:
Katz Coffee

Austin Hope, Christian Tietje, David Frick, Denise Shurtleff, Domenica Totty, Don Brady, Ed Auler, Ivan Giotenov, John Olney, Josh Baker, Karl Wente, Kent Rosenblum, Kim McPherson, Michael Eckstein, Michael Young, Mike Martini, Mike Westrick, Paul Bonarrigo, Ralf Holdenreid , Russell Smith, Tom Rinaldi, Tommy Oldre

Alexander Valley Vineyards, Amavi Cellars, Beaulieu Vineyard, Becker Vineyards, Calina, Cambria Estate Winery, Carmel Road Winery, Casa Lapostolle, Clayhouse Vineyards, Domaine Chandon, Edna Valley Vineyard, Fall Creek Vineyards, Four Vines Winery, Franciscan Vineyards, Grgich Hills Estate, Llano Estacado Winery, Long Boat, Louis M Martini Winery, McPherson Cellars, Medusa and Spellbound Wines (Folio Fine Wine Partners), Messina Hof Winery, Newton Vineyards, Pepper Bridge Winery, Provenance Vineyards, Robert Hall Winery, Rosenblum Cellars, Sterling Vineyards, Tablas Creek Vineyard, Terrazas de los Andes, Texas Hills Vineyard, Treana Winery, Viu Manent, Wente Vineyards, William Hill Estate Winery

Winery Principals:
Diana Goff, Elizabeth Bray, Galen McCorkle, Kent Rosenblum, Ray Goff, Violet Grgich

Winery Spokespersons:
Bill Golden, Mia Morelli

See you at the Festival!


Did you know a Texan saved the French wine industry?

No kidding! T.V. Munson was awarded the “Chevaliers du Merite Agricole” in the Legion of Honor by the French government in 1888 for his work in developing disease resistant rootstocks. Check out “Grape Man of Texas: The Life of T.V. Munson

Grape Man of Texas

Grape Man of Texas

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

Texas Wine Worth Drinking

4th Annual Texas Fall Fest & Wine Auction in the Texas Hill Country

This will be my first time to attend the Fall Fest in the Texas Hill Country. October 31- November 2, 2008

TX Fall Fest Invitation

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