Sizzling summer has Hill Country winegrowers scrambling to harvest grapes

Despite dry conditions, great vintage expected

BLANCO COUNTY, Texas – As you sip on your next glass of wine, consider this: It takes 34 gallons of water to make one glass of vino. 

Water is crucial for Texas grape growers, and this season they had to make changes because of the extreme heat. 

Evan McKibben, manager at William Chris Vineyards in Blanco County, said farmers have been harvesting their grapes a month early to avoid losing their crops.

"It was kind of a little different this year," McKibben said. "A lot of driving, a lot of water turning and just taking extra care of the grapes."

McKibben, who manages six vineyards across the Hill Country, said that due to the lack of rain this summer, he was sometimes driving an hour each way just to turn on the drip system. 

"The problem, is you keep getting in this drought and you can't really water enough," he said.

McKibben said the dry conditions caused the grapes to mature early. 

Grape harvesting in the Hill Country always starts in August, but this year it started halfway through July and was done by the first week of August. 

Despite the drought, something good did come of out it -- a great vintage. 

McKibben said well-watered vines hold more water in the grapes, diluting the sugars. 

He said they may have had to scramble to get the grapes off the vine early, but 2018 might bring them their best-tasting wine yet.

"With this drought condition, the smaller the berry, you are getting more intense flavors," McKibben said. "We are excited for the wine."

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