CLIMATE CHANGE AND THE WORLD OF WINE
On February 1, 2022, we published a blog entitled Buddy Can You Spare a Sip of Wine? Since then, we have bottled our Ranger Red and Mahout Red wines which are available as gifts to our Zanzenberg Storyville and Storyville Bank Loft guests in Center Point, Texas where the vineyard is located. Those grapes were harvested four years ago and the wine barrel-aged since that time. Over our twenty-year history of growing wine grapes, we have made wine on only a handful of occasions. Accordingly, it is a most difficult and expensive endeavor. We and others in our terroir are victims of Pierce’s Disease which is carried by insects that thrive in pasturelands near water that causes the grapes to ripen unevenly. Birds, hail and racoons also impact grape production. We had thought that the bottling of the 2018 harvest would be our last. However, along came climate change and we had a record harvest on August 4 at the Zanzenberg Storyville vineyard. The lack of rain and dried up creeks caused our terroir to become arid like that of West Texas and Mendoza in Argentina which is perfect when coupled with drip irrigation.
Therefore, on August 4, six of us picked and sorted beautiful grapes, such as this bunch shown here, for over six hours. It was incredibly hot and dry which was solved with bottled water throughout the harvest and ultimately celebrated with a cold beer. You will note that there is only one immature green grape on this bunch which is rare in a Pierce’s Disease environment. Normally, we have more sorters of immature grapes than grape harvesters, but this year was an exception given the outstanding quality of the grapes.
One ton of sorted grapes, shown here, was delivered to the winemaker to be crushed with the wine stored in the cellar and aged for future blending and bottling. The quality of these grapes would compete with those grown most anywhere and will yield some 30 cases of wine. Accordingly, we are looking forward to a future outstanding wine.
When one thinks of wine, we naturally think of France. The Financial Times recently published an article entitled Harvest Comes Early as French Winemakers Grapple with Climate Change. Based on appearances, I think our grapes compare quite favorably with those harvested in a traditional wine-growing region shown here. Whereas, climate change has favorably impacted our region, it has turned the industry in France upside down and radically impacted the maturation process of the grapes. Some regions have suffered a decline in the quality of the grapes following one of the hottest and driest European summers on record. Throughout France, all winemakers are responding to the climate change challenges by adapting farming and vinification practices accordingly.
It is difficult for outsiders to comprehend the climate change impact on commercial winemaking in France where harvest dates have been accelerated in some locations by weeks since 1980. As some 100,000 temporary workers are needed for the annual harvests, the logistical timing of bringing that many harvest staff together while providing adequate facilities and accommodations has become challenging. It is obviously a very different scale than what we face at Zanzenberg Storyville which is a labor of love and certainly not a livelihood.
Moreover, the overhead of the magnificent facilities of the major wineries in France are evidenced in this image. The chateau and careful care of the wine grapes is done in a manner that permits mechanization while adhering to the traditional precepts of natural growth relative to fertilization and drip irrigation. Further, climate change has increased competition from unlikely “Methode Champagne” competition from the United Kingdom. On the other hand, there is a certain “Je Ne Sais Quoi” prestige associated with French Champagne that bubbles like no other place else can equal.
The news from Zanzenberg Storyville is that Zanzenberg Tavern has opened in the downstairs of the oldest building in Kerr County which dates to 1873. The upstairs was the former home of the Masonic Lodge with a long Texas Ranger history and the downstairs was a mercantile enterprise with a trap door in the floor to provide shelter from the marauding Comanche Indians. Zanzenberg Tavern features the food creations of Chef Brian Montgomery who was a pioneer in farm-to-table cuisine and a master of smoked meats and vegetables. There are views of a beautiful garden and vineyard to add a special setting for tremendous cuisine.
Put Zanzenberg Tavern at 217 FM 480, Center Point on your future dining list and call 830-634-2619 or email email@example.com for a booking. Further, have a wonderful stay at the upstairs Zanzenberg Storyille B&B (zanzenbergstoryville.com) or next door at the Storyville Bank Loft (storyvillebankloft.com) for the ultimate experience in B&B stays and enjoy a complimentary glass of Ranger Red.
You might not see Chef Brian and his right-hand man, Bernardo, as they will be in the Zanzenberg Tavern kitchen creating some of the best food within a hundred miles of Center Point. However, Will and his team are out front to create some of the best beverages and service around. By the way, I am having a sip of Ranger Red as I complete this article. Remember you cannot purchase it, as it is far too costly to make. Therefore, we prefer to gift it as a special welcome to you. I am always happy to share some with you if you can catch me at The Elephant Story in Comfort or as a guest at our Center Point B&B’s.
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