Terry County proved why they are known as the Grape Capital of Texas during their 6th annual Vineyard Festival Friday and Saturday in Brownfield.
Residents from Brownfield and surrounding areas filled Reddy Vineyards to enjoy music from the Drake Hays Band and sample wines from local vineyards. With more than 4,000 acres of grape vines in Terry County, there was plenty to choose from.
“The industry has exploded,” said Bob Landon, owner of Landon Winery. “There are several growers that are coming on the last few years with us that have 800 to 1,000 acres each, which is huge growth for us because the wineries have always demanded the most grapes we could get.”
Landon, a former president of the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association, said he has seen major growth in the Texas wine industry in the last 13 years since he started. What started with 115 wineries bloomed to 461, and Texas is now the fifth largest wine producing state in the country and fourth in consumption, said Landon.
“The impact on the industry with the growth in the state of Texas is over $2 billion, people don’t know that,” said Landon. “People don’t think of Texas and wine, but we have a really big industry and quality wines. If people haven’t tried the wines in the last 10 years, they’re missing out.”
Landon said the demand and quality is there and he sees people enjoy his wine when they don’t typically drink wine, including Catarino Gonzalez at the Vineyard Festival.
“I’m a beer and whiskey guy, but this Yellow Rose is really good wine,” said Gonzalez, who eventually bought a bottle. “We wanted to come out here and see what it was all about, and it’s fun.”
Even the erratic weather for the year – mostly hot and dry with the occasional potent thunderstorm – hasn’t left growers with sour grapes. That includes McPherson Cellars, whose Verde Verde wine was a blend of grapes that had been hailed on and some that had not. Chase Hill of Trilogy and Burklee Hill Vineyards said the taste would make up for the smaller size of the grapes caused by the weather.
“Quality wise, it’s going to be a good quality crop,” said Hill, who owns Trilogy Cellars with his wife Elizabeth. “Tonages might be down a little because of the smaller berry size due to the hot weather, but the quality is there.”
Hill has also seen how fast the industry has grown and said it will keep growing from here as more wineries come to the area.
“It will be good for us and make jobs in the area,” said Hill. “It’s just Texans love Texas; we’re here local and people love local.”
Cliff Bingham, owner of Bingham Vineyards, also doesn’t mind the weather too much because, unlike with some other crops, grapes can still flourish in hot conditions.
“It’s very hot and dry, so we’re anticipating it to be fantastic this year,” said Bingham. “Some places, people watered a little extra. But, it’s going to be good quality all across the board.”