Serving Growing Ohios Grape and Wine Industry
Last January, January 6ththe official day of the polar vortex we experienced really damaging temperatures.Anywhere from around twenty below zero to about sixteen below zerowhere it killed the fruiting buds and it killed actual grape vines.And we've never experienced any damage like this before.And we've never we really didn't know the extentof the damage on the vines until April May in that time frame when we didn't see anybuds developing and even some of thetrunks cracked.
But the impact of that was dramaticwe have no crop at all in our vinifera and we grow varieties like Chardonnay, PinotNoir, Cabernet Franc, Rieslingand without any grapes, we were forced to buya lot of grapes. But it's had a huge impactas far as the grape production not to mention the actual wine losswhich is two or three years spanning. Because in some of the vineyardsthat will have to be replaced from the ground up
with new vines we will not get the first crop is three to four years out.So the impact is just dramatic and millions and millions of dollars.Actually in the viticulture program at Ohio Stateone of our focus of the research is cold hardiness of grapes.So really that's one of my expertise in this fieldof learning more about how grapes cope with freezing with cold in general.After this cold event our growers really needed a lot of help in terms of how to not onlyassess
the damage but also how to deal with the vinesthat are damaged. And we conducted a lot of workshops just toshow them how to prune the vines. Our relationship with Ohio State goes wayback in the 1980'sWe've had a long standing relationship with ongoing research in the wineryand in the vineyards. Currently with Imed Damiour research stems lately from the cold winter vortexwhere we've had a lot of the vines killed and damagedfrom the minus twenty degree temperatures.
Current research is kind of involved tothe extent of the damage to determine the actual damage andto have pruning studies done to see what was the best way to prunethese injured vines. We have not had temperatures that coldsince 1994 here and myself and a lot of the grape growershave not experienced this cold damage. So we need research to help uskind of figure out what's the next step and see what our future is in these vineyards.
Growing Grapes in Texas Jim Kamas Central Texas Gardener
I love Tait Moring's sense ofgardening style. Thanks so much for opening your gates for us. Right now we're going to talk aboutgrowing grapes. One of the hottest topics here in Texas because of all the wineries. We have Jim Kamas with us. It's great to have you back on theprogram. Welcome. Thanks, Tom, I appreciate it. Welcome back to Central Texas Gardener. You've just published a great new bookGrowing Grapes in Texas.
Congratulations on that! Thanks a lot. It took a couple years to get done, but I'm I'm pretty happy with it. Well you know, like I said, it's a hottopic. A lot of people are very interested in growing grapes in their backyard. Maybe one ofthose famous table grapes, like Concord or something like that. Well Concord ispretty tough to grow here. Concord likes acid soils which we don'thave. And it's much more adapted a cooler climates. If you wanted to grow Fredonia or some of the other lebrusca types, they'll work, but
Concord is a pretty tough one to grow here. Ok, well your book is filled with tips aboutvarieties and things like that. Let's focus on that home grower. You know , I know for example I go out to hillcountry every now and again to go to Fredericksburg, places around there. And I see wineries springing up like mushrooms now. And it kinda makes me wanna grow grapeshere in town. What does a home gardner need to know to get startedé Well if you're a homeowner and you want to grow enough vines to produce a little bit of wine
my advice is plant what you like. If you're planting a commercial vineyards we're going to have a very different discussion. But if you like Merlot, plant Merlot. If you like Syrah, plant Syrah. For smallscale, you have no big economicinvestment, so plant what you like and go with that. Yeah okay, that makes sense. In terms of the space needs, the sun,
all those kinds of things, grapes arerather particular and disease prone. Yes. So let's give people an idea of whatthe basics are that they would need to have any kind of success. Sure. Commercially our rows are spaced nine to ten feet apart, but in the backyard if you are maintaining the row centers with alawnmower or something, you can place the rows as close as six feet apart.And you can also go as tight as five to six feet between vines. You can put a lot of vines in arelatively small space.
So small space is OK. When we talk about the rows, we are talking about providing structures on which the the vines can grow and supportthemselves. Yes, a lot of times in California you'll see these free standing vines that are called head pruned vines. They don't do very well here because we need to keep our vines up off the ground because it rains here duringthe summer and they are very disease prone as you mentioned.
Texas Wine Teaser Drew Tallent
So much of the Hill Country is dreamers. Most people want to be in the wine business,and as soon as they get a little dose of the vineyard they don't want anything to do withit. If they could just buy the fruit somewhere and be in the wine business thatswhat they'd want to do. Wine growing is a lifestyle as well as an occupation. We'rein it for real. We got harvesters, we got sprayers, we got the equipment, we are doingthis. We had been peanut farming and cotton farming and things like that for years, astime goes by those things become less profitable and more problematic. We currently grow grapesprimarily for Becker Vineyards, we also grow
for Grape Creek, Texas Hills, and WilliamChris. We're in the grape growing business, in a big way. We have the highest producingvineyard in the Texas Hill Country region now. The grapes took off growing that firstyear and it looked like they liked the soil, the nextyear we planted 18 acres we won several silver medals from the wine that was made with that.I got really enthused, I was on to something now, we know what we're doing, turnedout we had a lot to learn. We have so many nemesis in this business it is hard to describe,other regions may have some of these problems but they don't have them all.We can have them all in the same year, spring
frost, hail, if your not flexible and willingto change you're going to have lots of problems. My family has been here for 4 generations,I'm a 4th generation farmer and rancher. I came back to run the family farm when my dadretired. and I decided I had enough of the city. I think the reason a lotof people are getting into this industry now is to escape the cities and get into the rurallifestyle and get away from the traffic and all the other things. We frequentlyhave lots of people ask us and tell us that they are interested in getting into the grapebusiness, and usually they are not very sincere and its easy to waste a lot oftime talking to someone that is not really
going to actually become involved in thisindustry. I met Dan McLaughlin somewhat by accident and have been working with him tohelp him establish his vineyard. It was one of those things where I knew what he was upagainst, where he was. I had been to the Buist Vineyard so, when I met him the firsttime he was out in the vineyard working and that was a pretty good sign, so we went fromthere. Grape growing is a very serious proposition it requires a lot of dedication,it's not nearly so romantic as it is just hard work. My favorite time is the harvest,because that means we're almost finished! We're a believer in the machine harvest. It'sa pretty interesting machine and how it works
it sorts out and blows all the leaves off,it sucks out all the leaves out of the fruit and cleans it us. Hand picking is veryvery slow, its very inconsistent, it's hard to get people trained, and then you cant keepthem after you train them. we did fifteen tons of fruit in about two and a halfhours. That's a lot to pick by hand and stick in a bucket. It takes fifteen hundred gallonsof water to wash it after the harvest. After weighing they're taken anddumped into a destemmercrusher and then that all goes into the tank to fermentation.If they are a red grape they will be in that steel tank probably two and a half maybe 3weeks, and when the fermentations are all
finished then they go to barrels. We've continuedto grow and expand and the medals have kept coming and the wineries like our fruit,so were going to be in it for the duration I guess.