Local wineries beat the odds, sell grapes across Texas

Local wineries beat the odds, sell grapes across Texas

SMITH COUNTY (KYTX) - East Texas wineries are among few in the state that survived the rare frosts of April and May.

Now, local vineyards are creating about 25 percent of the state's grape production, up from a usual 10 percent.

Even though unseasonable frost knocked off some of the grape growth all the way across the state this year, Kiepersol grew more grapes than usual, which means you'll be tasting some East Texas flavors all across the state.

Wine experts call the five freezes that hit Texas in April and May "unprecedented." They knocked the usual 10,000 tons of Texas grapes produced down to 2,000 this year.

Kiepersol Viticulturist Frans deWet says his crop did suffer some damage, but not near as much as other Texas vineyards.

"Like up in the panhandle or in the hill country people have had extensive damage to where they've lost their whole crop," deWet says.

That's why those vineyards are needing a little extra help from East Texas.

"We've been blessed. We've actually been able to share some of our crop with other wineries and they get to incorporate some of East Texas all over Texas," deWet says.

It's a first for Kiepersol.

"This is our first time to share fruit with other wineries," deWet says. "We normally keep ourselves around 140 to 150 tons, and we've been close to 200 this year."

That extra 50 tons will be spread all over: "Anywhere from down in the hill country up to by the Red River, to other parts of Dallas."

Kiepersol will bring a little extra profit from selling its fruit, but not much.

"With all these rains we've had we also have to do additional spraying throughout the season, so it kind of offsets the cost just a little bit," deWet says. "So we don't make as much money as people think we do selling fruit."

Maybe not a giant profit, but great pride in knowing East Texas will be represented state wide.

"It's definitely a good feeling to know you can share with other people."

He says you never know when you're the one who will need the help.

You will see white wines produced by this year's grapes possibly by the end of the year. The red wines will take about a year and a half to two years.

Other than the need for extra spraying, the unseasonable rains we've had this summer haven't hurt the grapes. That's due to good irrigations systems that control the excess water. 


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