We are well on our way to Christmas, umm I mean fall. But y’all know we’ll blink and it will be Christmas. September finds (somewhat) cooler temps, particularly out in the Texas Hill Country, which means its a great time to head out there. September is also an opportunity to assess the state of the Texas wine industry’s harvest. I was able to talk to a few folks about harvest when I was out there recently (more on that coming soon in time for October’s Texas Wine Month) and overall it seems like a good vintage. But before we get to harvest, here are some great things to do in Texas Wine Country in September.
Texas Wine Jam (Labor Day Weekend)
What a fun event this is going to be! Join Siboney Cellars, Sandy Road Vineyards, Crowson Wines, and several others on Sunday, September 4 during Labor Day weekend for the Texas Wine Jam. The event is a wine and music festival that’s about shining a light on new and off-the-beaten-path wineries along with a few “oldies, but goodies” and the local music that feeds our soul and drives the “Cool” of Central Texas. It’s also about supporting two very impactful causes around local music and local wine – SIMS Foundation and Texas Wine Community Scholarships. In other words, its a wine and music festival that gives back.
The SIMS Foundation provides mental health and substance use recovery services and supports for musicians, music industry professionals, and their dependent family members. The event takes place at Vinovium in Johnson City and tickets are $55 for VIP/$45 General Admission.
Carter Creek Winery & Resort Shrimp Boil
Join Carter Creek Winery & Resort all Labor Day weekend long, Friday, September 2, 2022 to Sunday, September 4, 2022, for their shrimp boil special. Even better, since its a full scale resort, why not book a room and make a weekend of it?! Just be sure to go hungry, because their Shrimp Boil is not only delicious, but also hearty! The boil will also feature some fixins like corn and potatoes. What’s not to love?
Texas Fine Wine Sunset Cruise
Join the wineries of Texas Fine Wine on Friday, Sept. 9 for their annual sunset cruise on Lake Austin, one of their most popular events. Enjoy a two-hour sunset cruise and dinner while enjoying exceptional Texas wines from the Texas Fine Wine group (Bending Branch Winery, Duchman Family Winery, Pedernales Cellars and Spicewood Vineyards).
The cruise is with Lake Austin Riverboats, which has an air-conditioned room and multiple viewing decks. In addition to a tasty fajita dinner, diners will get to taste 8 different wines while enjoying the beautiful cruise.
Boarding begins at 6:45 p.m. with the cruise departing at 7 p.m. Tickets are $75 each via Eventbrite with deadline to order on Wednesday, Sept. 7 by 5 p.m.
William Chris Sunsets at the Vineyard
Enjoy a beautiful Hill Country sunset with William Chris. They are extending their hours at the winery every Saturday during the month of September and would love for you to join them. Take advantage as most wineries close around 5pm. These evening events will offer current release wines by the bottle as well as food available for purchase. Plus enjoy live music against the backdrop of a breathtaking Hye sunset!
The Sunsets at the Vineyard event series is every Saturday from 6:30 to 8:30pm. The events are free, but be sure to rsvp.
Signor Vineyards Progressive Wine Dinner
Signor Vineyards’ Progressive Wine Dinner is returning. This is always a delicious outing at their estate in the Hill Country. Diners will enjoy five courses in all, each presented in its own lovely spot on the property whether it’s The Grove, in the vineyards, the Harvest Room and more. They haven’t released the menu yet, but the last one was amazing.
The event takes place Friday, September 30 and Saturday, October 1 at 7pm each day. Tickets are $215 Members/ $225 Non-Members.
Coming Next Month
Texas Hill Country Passport Event
During October, which also happens to be Texas Wine Month, the Texas Hill Country Wineries’ passport event will take place at over 45 wineries in the beautiful Hill Country.
This event is the third of four self-guided passport events Texas Hill Country Wineries hosts throughout the year, allowing consumers to experience a world of wine at a variety of participating wineries. With the purchase of a digital Passport, ticket holders can taste at up to four wineries per day over the course of the month, as well as receive exclusive discounts on bottle purchases.
Passport tickets are $120/couple or $85/individual. $5 from each ticket sold goes directly to the Texas Hill Country Wine Industry Scholarship Fund. In total, more than $55,500 has been awarded to 47 Texas students working towards a degree in Viticulture, Enology or Hospitality.
Texas 2022 Harvest Report
After talking to a few folks and then reading a few reports, I have to say that I’m excited about the 2022 vintage. Ron Yates says this may be a vintage to rival 2017, which is one of the best in recent memory. Like wow! Here’s what a few folks in the know are saying.
Director of winemaking, Sergio Cuadra:
The grapes matured very quickly this year because the temperature degree days were considerably warmer. The summer and the growing season as a whole have been warmer than usual. Because of this, the 2022 harvest has been one of the earliest harvests of recent history. The vineyards loads were slightly below average. The vines in the Hill Country are still recovering from last year’s freeze. So we have slightly smaller crops, but nice fruit. My take from the reds is that they will have well-developed tannins, and perhaps more structure than previous years. Overall really good quality fruit. The red grapes already show a promising vintage. In particular, Tempranillo is looking fantastic. Its quality is above average.
Owner and winemaker, John Rivenburgh:
We work closely with high quality farmers throughout the entire year to assist with vineyard management and growing decisions. Because of this tight collaboration, our fruit is phenomenal. Despite seeing lower yields in some vineyards around Texas, our 2022 harvest has produced enough tonnage to fulfill all our incubator member’s fruit needs, as well as our own. This season, we have harvested 57 tons, with 35 tons coming from vineyards in the Hill Country, and 22 tons from our growers in the Texas High Plains. We have brought in 15 different varieties, from 10 vineyards in the Hill Country, and three vineyards in the High Plains.
Owner Ron Yates:
This year will be a Vintage to Rival 2017, which was one of the best in the Texas wine industry. Each growing season presents its own unique challenges in the vineyard. 2022 is no exception. Despite smaller crops, we are seeing amazing quality from several of our vineyards. Our own Estate-grown Tempranillo is insanely incredible. The Mourvèdre from Sandy Road Vineyard is going to make fantastic wine. Our Merlot and Cabernet from Friesen Vineyards will be a show-stopper again this year. The best-managed vineyards in Texas will have a smaller than usual crop, but with stellar quality.
Co-founder, Susan Johnson:
Mother Nature is working overtime in Texas Vineyards! Our excessive heat and total lack of rainfall has resulted in higher Brix (natural sugar level) numbers than normal for this time of the summer in central Texas vineyards. With bud-break in March being a full two to three weeks late this year, growers expected that harvest would be pushed back by an equal number of weeks. Not so!! The red grape varieties, normally harvested in August, were ready much sooner than typical years. The extreme weather led to lower quantities, but very good quality. The vineyard yields from the Hill Country is about 20-30% less than previous years, and we are receiving about 50% less fruit per acre from our growers on the High Plains. The quality of the wine made from these grapes is yet unknown, but we believe it will be more intense because of the high heat and concentrated growth season.
Winemaker, Seth Urbanek:
The wine grape crops are smaller this year with some varietals and vineyard locations faring slightly better than others. Yield is down primarily because strong Spring winds blew the flowers off of the grapevines. Those self-pollinating flowers are really delicate and susceptible to adverse weather. While we have healthy vines and canopy, we have less fruit. Harvest is earlier this year than I’ve ever seen — at least a week to 10 days early. The grapes have matured rapidly with sugar levels picking up fast. But one significant advantage to the fast ripening and low rainfall is that we are seeing better acid retention and less potassium across grape varietals. That ensures our wines will have the brightness that we love.
Overall, things are looking good for 2022. Now get out there and drink some Texas wine. And start gearing up for October – which is Texas Wine Month!