Weather Hits Texas Wineries Hard - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

7/23/07-Longview

Weather Hits Texas Wineries Hard

Texas is the fifth largest producer of domestic wines, but several east Texas wineries have been hit hard by recent rains. The sun coming out today is a welcome sight for workers at Los Pinos Ranch Winery in Camp County, but it comes far too late.

"The standing water has been one of the biggest problems.  We've got a young vineyard that is having difficulty surviving," said Los Pinos owner Jeff Sneed.

Across the state, Texas grape growers have lost an estimated 75 percent of their crop from the wet spring and summer.  Los Pinos has lost over 50 percent.

"It takes two years to make a wine, and then aging could be as many as two or three more years" said Sneed.

Texas wines have become a familiar sight on store shelves, affordable and comparable to California wines and selling as much out of state as in state. The loss to Texas wineries could end up in the millions.

The problem for Texas grape growers is photosynthesis. They need leaves and sunshine to produce healthy grapes, and this year they've had very little of either. Vines are rotting away from too much water.

In good years Los pinos harvests eight to ten tons of white grapes. This year only two and a half - a years worth of work.

"It's certainly been a problem and it's a problem all across the state" said Sneed.

To offset the loss Sneed, like others, will import California grapes. But for others, it's already too late.

"There are people that can't weather it.  You have to be in it for the long haul, and there's been some vineyards that have already come and gone" Sneed says.

But like all farmers, they are at the mercy of the weather.

"That has been a bit troublesome, but that's part of the thing you sign up with if you're going to  be a farmer" he says.

Sneed will try to recoup some of his losses with a better harvest of red grapes in August.

Prices of Texas wines are expected to remain relatively unchanged. That is due to a glut of California grapes that will be used to offset the poor harvest in Texas.

Bob Hallmark bhallmark@kltv.com  

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