Random Thoughts…on Grape Varieties


I’ve had a couple of people ask me why I decided on planting so many varieties of grapes.  Whereas most vineyards only plant 2-3 varietals, I have 11.  Currently planned or planted are:

350 Cynthania/Norton
200 Shiraz/Syrah
125 Viognier
100 Cabernet Sauvignon
100 Golden Muscat
100 Sangiovese
100 Villard Blanc
50 Chambourcin
50 Merlot
50 Zinfandel
25 Vignoles/Ravat 51

Once its all said and done, we will have about 3 acres of vines planted.

So, why so many?

Well to answer that, you really have to know a little about me.  I am one of those people that just LOVE variety, and I love change.  Most of the people I know are just the opposite.  Every sunday, I go out with my inlaws for a nice bottle of wine, they will usually pick something that they have experienced over and over for the past who knows how many years.  Whereas I on the otherhand, am always trying something new.  Our local wine shop only carries about 1000 different brands of wine (its a small town).  But every time I go in there, I am buying lots of uknown brands instead of cases of the same thing.  I just get tired of tasting the same wine over and over, even if it is really good, I want to experience all that I can.  Now, some are really good, and some I make a note of to never buy it again, hehe.

So, that is the main reason, I have planted so many different varietals.  So, I can make different types of wine.

Next, here in Central Texas, there is only 1 winery within 50 miles of me.  And they just opened their doors in 2006.  They planted 3 different varieties, the Blanc Du Bois, Norton, and Black Spanish.  These are the staples of Texas wines that you (or may not) have heard of.  Especially the Black Spanish, that has been planted here in Texas since the 1800’s.  We do have a lot of diseases here because of our warm winters, and hot humid summers.  The biggest of those is Pierce’s Disease, which will kill grape vines in a matter of years.  And considering that grapes take at least 3 years to mature to get  your first good crop, that doesn’t help.

So, I have no real reference as to what are the best grapes to plant in my area.  So, I decided to take some of my favorite wines to drink, some of the wines recommended for the disease resistance, and some that friends and family enjoy.  All in all, this is about 50% trial grapes, and 50% grapes known to grow *near* me here in Texas.  Research still goes on in places like UC Davis that are promising much better grapes that will be virtually guaranteed to grow in my area within the next 5-8 years, so, by then considering how many of my vines survive, they may be replaced with the newer technological varieties.

Finally, I would like to have a vineyard that is totally self sustaining.  Meaning that the grapes that I have will be all that I will need to make a decent wine.  If I planted only 2-3 varieties, it is possible that they would have a flaw (too high acid, too high sugar, low PH, etc) and I would not be able to correct it without chemicals.  This still may be a possibility, but with a few different varieties, there is a better chance that I will be able to blend the juice into a decent wine where the faults of one grape, is hidden by mixing it with another.


And there you have it.

A little science,
a little gut feeling,
and a whole lot of different grape varieties.

2 comments to Random Thoughts…on Grape Varieties

  • Jeff Beavers

    Bumped this post.

  • Jeff Beavers

    I had to pull up our Black Spanish and Favorite grapes as the heat and drought killed them. They never really seemed to like my soil either, so I guess it is for the best. I have updated the page with our current grape vine count.

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