Low Yields, High Quality Grapes for Texas Vineyards

By Emmy Powell
Communications Specialist

The 2022 growing season for Texas wine grape vineyards has been a challenge. Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service experts said the grapes had below-average yield but above-average quality.

Triple-digit temperatures and drought have impacted yields across the state of Texas. But the dry conditions resulted in better quality wine grapes.

Along the Gulf Coast, drought resulted in below average yields but led to exceptional grape quality.

The main grape variety of the region is Blanc du Bois. The dryness also contributes to the good sugar content of these grapes.

“Blanc du Bois is an early variety and luckily it was ready to harvest about six weeks after the onset of drought conditions here,” said Fran Pontasch, AgriLife Extension winemaker at Bryan-College Station. “So the grapes did not benefit from any disease and were of very good quality with some irrigation.”

The Gulf Coast and Hill Country are generally at high risk for fungal disease due to humidity, but the drought has reduced the risk.

Yields in the Hill Country are estimated to be down 30-50%.

“It was very dry, and the heat came in early and was relentless,” said Brianna Crowley, AgriLife Extension grape grower in Fredericksburg. “Thus, it has been difficult to get the vine’s root systems the moisture they need to function effectively.”

The size of the grapes on the vines was smaller than normal but was of good quality.

The High Plains season started late but should end early.

“The story this season has been early bud break, severe drought and several days above 100 degrees,” said Daniel Hillin, AgriLife Extension grape grower in Lubbock. “Producers have irrigated a lot this year to keep everything going, but overall, in terms of quality, it’s going to be good.

It’s too early to estimate yields from the High Plans and West Texas region, which typically produces 80-85% of Texas wine grapes.

North Texas experienced similar conditions, but the main difference was the wind.

“There were no losses from a late spring frost, but high winds contributed to fruit set 10-30% lower than normal, depending on the variety,” said Michael Cook, AgriLife grape grower. Extension to Denton. “Quality has been good, and we had some critical rain earlier in the season which helped.”

AgriLife Extension growers say this year’s harvest will produce a fine vintage.

“Texas growers are tenacious because they’re growing in a very hostile environment,” she said. “The vines face constant stress in a normal year, but this year was particularly difficult due to compound stressors. But even after all the challenges, I think the 2022 season should produce a great vintage.

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