There is no season more vibrant and alive in the Texas High Plains as the breathtaking Texas grape harvest. Vijay and Subada Reddy remember their first harvest in the same way that parents recall bringing home a baby. It was a rush of excitement and nervousness, and each new harvest has been a replay of that first time.
Like a newborn, a Texas wine harvest takes on a life of its own. There’san energy, a vibe in the air that attracts wine lovers and adventurers from far and near to experience the Texas wine harvest.
Vintners are on high alert for drastic changes in weather during harvest. The weather plays an important role in determining exactly when grapes are picked and something as common as a rainstorm can wreak havoc on the best laid plans for picking. Rain can dilute grapes and too much moisture in the air can result in moldy grape clusters. A heat wave can cause a spike in sugar levels in the grapes. But Texas vintners take these risks in stride; it’s all a part of pioneering winegrowing in Texas.
The Texas grape harvest season begins in the eastern part of the state as early as the first day of August. Harvest moves west into the High Plains region quickly and continues there longer than any other part of the state due to the span of maturation for the wide variety of grapes grown in the region. Harvest season 2019 was right on schedule despite a drought that impacted most of the state, including the Texas High Plains.
A busy time for all Texas grape growers, harvest is an especially active time in the Texas High Plains AVA. There are more than 75 grape varieties grown in the region that are harvested each year. Among the most popular are Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, Merlot, Mourvedre, Sangiovese, Viognier, Muscat Canelli, Malbec, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Riesling, Primitivo, Chardonnay, Petite Verdot, Tannat, Sauvignon Blanc, and Petite Sirah. With this large number of grape varieties, harvest can span three months from the first pick to the last.
At Reddy Vineyards, the 2019 Texas winegrapes harvest kicked off with the earlier ripening varieties, such as Viognier and Muscat. Other grapes picked early in the season are typically Sauvignon Blanc, Albariño and Marsanne. As the season progressed, the whites finished just as the red varieties were at their optimum ripeness. For Reddy Vineyards, harvest concludes in October when the heartiest red grape varieties are picked, delivered to the winery and put in the tank to ferment.
Reddy Vineyards harvests grapes late at night and into the early morning hours under bright lights to ensure the highest quality of fruit is picked. This method for harvesting delivers grapes to the winery while the temperatures are cool enough to preserve their optimum sugar and acid levels.
This extraordinary time, when all Texas vintners harvest their grapes, offers visitors a bevy of activities to do and sights to see. For the enthusiast, it’s worthwhile seeking out vintners who invite visitors into the vineyard to pick grapes. This hands-on experience is one of the best ways to fully understand how the hard work performed in vineyards is critical to the activities inside the winery. And while you might discover some fun and games like stomping grapes, at Reddy Vineyards we believe that harvest is best celebrated with a glass of wine in hand.
Earlier this year, Reddy Vineyards Texas released its Field Blend, a blend of Italian grape varietals; TNT Red Blend, made with Touriga Nacional and Tempranillo, and The Dyer Red Blend, comprised of Alicante Bouschet and Merlot; all of which can be purchased online or at the winery.These Texas Hill Country Wines are perfect for sipping this fall as shorter days inspire us all to spend more time relaxing with friends and family.
For visitors and vintners alike, harvest is a magical time throughout Texas wine country. For Vijay and Subada’s son, Akhil Reddy, the Texas wine grapes harvest is his favorite time of year. Having grown up in the Texas High Plains area, he doesn’t mind the long nights and early mornings. For him, the hard work of the Texas grape harvest season is not a job, it’s a passion.