And it’s not good at all. Some of the state’s best vineyards are reporting significant losses, thanks to a series of late winter freezes and thaws that followed in rapid succession.
Neal Newsom, whose Newsom Vineyards in west Texas supplies grapes for some of of the state’s leading producers, says he may get as little as half a crop from his 95 acres -- and his experience may be typical. Newsome says his grapes mostly made it through a first freeze at the end of March, but didn’t survive a second freeze. Temperatures had climbed into the 70s and 80s between the two freezes, and buds started to appear. Then, when the second freeze occurred a couple of weeks after the first, the budding grapes were set up to die.
The problem, says Newsom, was not so much the second freeze, which hit 21 degrees around Easter weekend. It’s not unusual to see a freeze that late in the year. Rather, it was the unseasonably warm temperatures between the freezes, which made the vines bud earlier than usual.
This is the fourth consecutive year that west Texas will produce less than a full crop, thanks to bad weather. Reports from the rest of the state aren’t good, either, including the Hill Country between Austin and San Antonio. Rick Naber at Flat Creek near Marble Falls told me he may have lost more than half his crop.