Grape Creek Vineyards, Texas Hill Country AVA

Drought, heat, and high winds will mark the 2022 Texas Hill Country vintage.  We started budbreak in late March with a “generous” two-tenths of an inch of rain for the year, then we got a sip here and there after that with a mere handful of rain events the entire season. Gusty winds picked up April and May during bloom causing some excess shatter in our hilltop blocks. However, fruit set was solid with a few less berries per cluster. The lack of rain left us with some of the smallest berries we’ve seen, which makes for a great skin-to-pulp ratio. Stubborn high temperatures persisted throughout the summer, so we left a slightly larger canopy than past years to give the fruit a bit more shade. However, the fruit matured slowly in the high heat. There was no disease pressure, and we ended up with a surprisingly later harvest than expected. This record-breaking arid season challenged us, but more importantly it challenged the vines. It’s going to be heat in a bottle and hopefully, a year we’ll want to taste for years to come.  

Texas High Plains AVA

Across the board, yields are low this year, in some cases no crop was produced. We are seeing averages of two to 2.5 tons per acre. The drought and poor atmospheric conditions created shatter, an effect on the blooms experiencing dry windy conditions that led to poor fruit set. Continued dry weather through the growing season also led to smaller than normal berries, which means that we are seeing lower gallons per ton yields. The upside to smaller berries is that the higher skin to pulp ratio is resulting in darker, more extracted wines. The midseason rains brought relief to much of the state, however it wasn’t the best timing for us. Growers were left scrambling to open canopies and reduce the risk of fungal growth. The vineyards were then able to dry out and sugars (brix) began to move quickly. We wrapped up the last of the harvest season in late September. 

Paso Robles Willow Creek District AVA

Vintage 2022 started fairly early this year. Due to the dry and warmer weather budbreak occurred in early April. Rain finally came late April and then again in May, which slowed the growth in the vineyards. A colder spell followed but luckily the vineyard escaped without any late season frost. The remainder of the spring season was fairly mild with warm days and cool nights.  

While the summer months had a few days topping out at over 100 degrees, we had mostly mild weather during the day with moderate nights. However, ripening came very quickly and harvest was at least two to three weeks early this year because of a mid-September heat spell of over 10 days with temperatures of 110 degrees. Thankfully, the grapes survived the heat spell, but it definitely hastened the ripening process. After the hot days, the weather returned to normal and again the grapes began to ripen slowly. Even still, it was one of the earliest vintages we’ve ever had with harvest being done on October 5th. While it was a smaller crop this year, the quality was excellent.  

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Terms Defined

Fruit set: a part of the grape growing season where the flowering clusters turn into berries

Shatter: when a grape cluster does not reach maturity due to unfavorable climate conditions

Canopy: the grapevines foliage and fruit

Budbreak: the opening of a dormant bud, when the shoot begins to grow