Have a grape time at a Hill Country harvest
It’s harvest time in the Texas Hill Country. We’re not talking peaches; we’re talking grapes.
The Hill Country is the second-largest grape growing region in the state. The High Plains-Panhandle holds the top spot. More than 50 varieties of grapes are grown in Texas — most of them reds. And with harvest time upon us, many of the vineyards in the Highland Lakes and the rest of the Hill Country are hoping folks will step in — sometimes literally —and help.
Here are a few vineyard grape harvests happening in August 2019:
2935 FM 1478 in Lampasas
Harvesting Mourvèdre and Malbec. Volunteers should arrive at 7 a.m. The harvest will end at about 11 a.m. A light breakfast and lunch will be provided. RSVP to email@example.com or (512) 556-9600.
AUGUST 3 & AUGUST 17
Rustic Spur Vineyards
1653 Gellermann Lane in Fredericksburg
Harvesting Semillon on August 3 with another harvest slated for August 17. Volunteers should arrive at 6:30 a.m. A light breakfast, lunch, and water will be provided. RSVP for either harvest by contacting the tasting room, Vintners Hideaway, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (830) 992-3370.
1419 CR 409 or 1419 Kromer Lane in Spicewood
First harvest is Saturday, August 3, at 9 p.m. at the vineyard. For more information on the night harvest, call (830) 693-5328.
24912 Singleton Bend E in Marble Falls
Flat Creek Estate Winery will harvest Sangiovese and welcome volunteers to paraticipate in the harvest. Volunteers should arrive at 6 a.m. for coffee and granola bars. The harvest starts at sunrise with a mid-morning break for breakfast tacos. Volunteers should RSVP to (512) 267-6310.
If you would like to get your feet dirty, check out these grape stomps in August:
- Barons Creek Vineyards in Fredericksburg — August 3-4
- 290 Wine Castle in Johnson City— August 17
- Pedernales Cellars in Stonewall — August 17-18 and August 24-25
- William Chris Vineyards Grape Punch — August 17 and August 24-25
- Texas Hills Vineyard in Johnson City - August 17-18 and August 24-25
- Messina Hof Hill Country Harvest Festival — August 23-24
- Fall Creek Vineyards in Tow — August 24
- Becker Vineyards in Stonewall— August 24-25 and August 31-September 1
- Chisholm Trail Winery in Fredericksburg— August 31
Grapes and wine have grown into Texas culture. In 2019, with 588 wineries, Texas unseated New York as the fifth-ranked state for number of wineries. Texas can also claim an extraordinary 9 million American Viticultural Area acres, many times over Napa Valley’s nearly 225,000 AVA acres.
Texans have had their feet in the wine industry since before Prohibition (1920-33), but only one winery remained after that time: Val Verde Winery. The winery was established in 1883 in Del Rio and is known as the state’s oldest winery still in operation. In fact, according to TexasWineTrail.com: “Texas has been growing grapevines far before California;” however, it just didn’t catch on until recently.
With its excellent soil and climate, the Hill Country was where Susan and Ed Auler, pioneers to the Texas wine-growing industry, planted a quarter-acre test plot on their Fall Creek Ranch in Tow in 1975. That plot grew to include 7½ producing acres. By 1980, with the purchase of 400 more acres on the west side of Lake Buchanan, Fall Creek Vineyards was born. In 1990, Ed Auler’s hard work paid off, and the Texas Hill Country became a respected viticultural region. In fact, Fall Creek Vineyards is one of the oldest 100-percent Texas-grown and -made wineries.
Texas winemaking hit a growth spurt in 2005 with the passing a state bill allowing wineries to ship directly to the consumer. As a direct result, the number of wineries skyrocketed, but only a fraction of these actually grow their own grapes. Currently, Texas laws allow wines to be labeled as “Texas wine” if at least 75 percent of the fruit going into the bottle is from Texas. There is a new push among Texas producers to have the law changed to require 100 percent of the fruit be from Texas to be labeled as “Texas wine.”
Nevertheless, the grape season in Texas is beginning and many area vineyards are looking for volunteers to lend a hand, or foot.
Since it is rather warm this time of year, harvesting begins just as, or slightly before, the sun peeks over the horizon. Volunteers should wear sunscreen, hats, gloves, and closed-toe shoes and bring pruners. Many vineyards have cutting tools you can borrowed if you don’t have your own.
What do volunteers get in return for assisting with a harvest? Most vineyards are so grateful for the extra help that they often provide a light breakfast and lunch as well as water to sustain you during the harvest. Please note: Pets should remain at home for this activity as there is large equipment in operation as well as many vehicles and people moving around during a harvest.
So, roll up your sleeves, or pants legs, and get to work.
Check out other Texas Hill Country and Highland Lakes wineries.
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