Perissos Vineyard and Winery Expands, Invests in Future of Texas Wines
BURNET — Seth Martin, owner of Perissos Vineyard and Winery, just invested in the future of his vineyard. A new winemaking and storage facility could increase production by up to 90 percent and act as a safeguard in years the weather is unfavorable for grape growing.
Perissos wines are 100 percent Texas-grown, a stamp of authenticity that — although praised by many — comes with disadvantages.
The production cost for Texas grapes is more expensive than grapes grown in other winemaking hubs such as California due to Lone Star State weather and lack of a large, winemaking industry, Martin said. As a result, a slow production year could result in struggles for a Texas vineyard, something that Martin hopes to avoid with the new storage facility.
“The reason why we built our new facility … was so that when there’s a really good year, we can create surplus so that when there’s a bad year because of weather, we can have that surplus to draw on,” Martin said. “To be a true Texas winery, we have to create a surplus.”
The two-part expansion includes a winemaking facility and a cold storage facility, which should allow Perissos to produce more wine each season. Though Martin said that, because of the challenges of growing grapes in Texas, he doesn’t expect the cost of wine to decrease, he does expect an increase in quality.
The new facilities will also allow Perissos to make wine while open to the public, a challenging feat before the expansion. Because the winery and tasting room were in the same space, winemaking was put on halt so tastings and visits could take place.
“We had one space being used for multiple purposes, which is terrible from a winemaking point of view,” Martin said. “Having a separate facility where we can make wine when wine actually needs to be made … it’s quantum leaps forward for us.”
Martin said, with the exception of some minor details, the space is already finished and they have begun making wine in the new facility.
Neighboring vineyard Torr Na Lochs also uses Texas-grown fruits. Owner Karen DeBerry said harvesting in Texas is difficult because of the hot, dry climate.
“It’s challenging for us here in the Hill Country because of the short, hot growing season and also the sporadic rainfall,” she said.
This year, the unseasonably warm winter and spring caused some vineyards, including Torr Na Lochs and Perissos, to move up their harvesting season.
Despite challenges facing Texas winemakers, Texas wines are gaining attention nationwide. In recent years, Perissos wines have won gold in many competitions, including four Best in Class awards from the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, one of the most prestigious wine competitions in the country.
A recent economic impact study released by the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association revealed that, in 2015, the wine industry in Texas contributed $2.27 billion to the state economy, a 128 percent growth from a similar study conducted in 2005.
DeBerry thinks authenticity has something to do with the growing popularity of Texas wine.
“I think that’s in large part due to the fact that grape growers have been growing grapes in Texas long enough now that everyone’s pretty much figured out that we shouldn’t try to be California,” DeBerry said. “As the growers have shifted to the (grapes) that grow better in our areas, the quality of the fruit, and therefore, the quality of the wine, has increased tremendously.”
Though Texas wines are trickier to produce, Martin, an Ohio native, said authenticity is important for Perissos Vineyard as well.
“If a customer leaves a Texas winery, they should be purchasing a product grown in the state of Texas,” Martin said. “That’s what makes us unique and distinct.”
Martin said he foresees continued growth for the Texas wine industry.
“I think that the fact that we’re building a new facility is a state of confidence that the wine market is growing in Texas,” Martin said.
Perissos Vineyard and Winery is located at 7214 Park Road 4 West in Burnet. Call (512) 820-2950 or go to perissosvineyards.com.
Torr Na Lochs is located at 7055 Texas 29 West in Burnet. Call (512) 766-0555 or go to torrnalochs.com.
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