Drought leads to smaller grape crop for Lubbock growers

Published: Aug. 4, 2022 at 8:44 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - It’s been a tough growing season for most producers in Texas, including those who grow grapes. At Llano Estacado Winery, making wine has been a little tougher.

“This year it seems like that most of the juices coming out early and not sustaining out through the press, so we’re getting lower gallons per tons than we would get on a normal year say, like last year,” cellar lead, Jaylan Hamersley, said.

Brenham Gordon, who is a racker and a blender at the winery, says last season there was a really heavy rain from May to August.

“That caused a lot of the vines to take up a lot of nutrients and depending on what vineyard does what,” Gordon said. “Some vineyards might not put back what they had and depends on how the vines took.”

Hamersley says on a vine, the purple grapes are getting closer to being harvested, but some that are still green may never ripen.

“Bud break to start, and then to start in varieties consistently from whites to reds and then fruit set and then through fluorescents and all that, it was pretty rough,” Gordon said.

Grapes are also bought from other vineyards in the area that aren’t having much luck, either. A producer brought a truck with a lot less product than expected.

“They were predicting for about 35 tons to come out of the 30-acre block and they got 17,” Hamersley said.

A tasting room associate, Sarah Yockey, says the winery buys grapes from vineyards 200 miles from Lubbock, but all producers are in the same battle.

“Worst case scenario, we might have to end up buying some grapes from other producers outside of the state because they’ve had it a little easier this year,” Yockey said.

Gordon says a lot of rain right now won’t actually help. It could cause fungus to grow in the berries. He says all that can be done is to prepare for next season.

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