Last week, I was allowed the opportunity to tour this WONDERFUL winery in Greenville, TX, known as Landon Winery! With locations all across the North Texas area, the Greenville location is their biggest facility where most of there storage and bottling takes place! During this tour, I wanted to learn more about the process of growing grapevines and how the development of wine happened, since a majority of wine they sell is grown in Texas soils.
*If you didn't know, the highest production of wine happens in France. If you look within the U.S., California takes the trophy in wine production. This is pretty unique considering that Texas has obstacles to overcome with environmental conditions. Only around 25% of the wine in Landon Winery facilities are brought from outside of Texas (places like Washington, California, etc.)
When I first got there, I received a little bit of background knowledge regarding where their wine came from and how they have the ability to grow vines in Texas. The soils here in Texas are suitable for those vines, but because of our hot temperatures and humidity, the process of maturing occurs too fast and the ripeness does not develop evenly (this leads to the grapes becoming more bitter due to the acids burning faster). In addition, a bacterial disease transmitted from a bug can kill a vine within 5 years. The problem with this is that it takes 5 years to actually start receiving a full production out of these vines (which means A LOT of risk in Texas). From a certain point, most of Texas and southern states have that disease, which is why it is challenging to grow vines in Texas. However, this doesn't stop vineyard farmers in Texas! The areas that the winery receives barrels from are grown within the purple areas in the picture below. However, the primary area the winery receives most varieties from are within the High Plains region (West Texas- Camo Green color).
When planting a vineyard, you consistently have to keep an eye on the vines and clusters to make sure everything is ripe and ready! In addition, a lot of pruning, chemistry, and maintenance goes into the planting of vines (FYI, a vine can last up to 20 YEARS!!!! CRAZY). Just like a bonsai, you want to prune and shape your vines so that they can grow to their best potential and grow as many clusters as possible without weighing the vine down (you only get 2 clusters per sprout [new growth]...so a typical farmer can expect about 32 clusters from a mature vine). To maintain these vines, you need to check and make sure they are getting proper nutrition (this is where the chemistry comes in) and consistent watering because, in Texas, soil can dry out QUICK!
*since the frost in Texas is unpredictable, there are THANKFULLY 3 chances for buds to survive. The secondary bud (2nd life) will replace the primary (1st life
) if a frost comes around, but they chance fruit will produce is 50/50. The tertiary bud (3rd life), it is what they consider "survival mode" and no production of fruit will happen. So when Texas has those late frosts, these buds will help out those vines by giving them stronger chances of survival and a slight chance of continuing production.
When it comes to the process of storing the barrels, it takes years to get that nice and mature wine everyone loves to taste. A lot goes into the way you store it, what you put into the barrel, and how long you let the barrel sit. Most wine that is sold to consumers is what they consider to be filtered (like how orange juice gets its pulp filtered); however, you can drink it straight from the barrel too! Certain factors play into the wine's flavor, including the oak wood that is soaked in the wine (the barrel is made out of oak, but the "swirl" extension can act as a new barrel so that wineries can save money). After it sits in the barrels for a couple years (or even 9 years), the winemakers have the option to add different ingredients, where they soon put the wine, mixed or pure, in the filtering machines for no more than a month. When this process is done, they bottle up and seal the wine up to sell to their customers (the bottling process is something that the winery dos within the building itself too).
FUN FACT: The year on the bottle is not for the year the wine was bottled, but for when the grapes were harvested (I don't drink wine and don't have much knowledge about it, so I thought that was good to know)!
Although that is only a small portion of what actually goes into the production of wine, I can say there is A LOT of hard work that goes into the business (from the field all the way to when the bottle is sealed). Thank you once again Landon Winery for the informative tour and hands-on learning experience about our Texas winery businesses! I'm told that Landon's Winery is DELICIOUS (cause I'm underage, I cannot drink), so you should go check it out, tell me how it is, and look into their events coming up!