Frozen Wine in Texas

It’s being called by some ‘the St Valentine’s day massacre’. Starting on 9 February, a cold front descended on the state of Texas, bringing with it temperatures as low as -12 °F (-24 °C) and up to nine inches of snow and ice in some places. Average February temperatures in Austin, Texas, normally hover between 34 °F and 40 °F (1–4 °C). Instead, I was watching videos of friends snowboarding in their backyards.

Of course, that was only a novel point of levity in what quickly became a major disaster. Current estimates of the total damage are at hurricane levels – between $10 and $20 billion, while estimates from Texas A&M University put the agricultural damage at or above $600 million.

Texas has recently become America’s fifth-largest wine-producing state, with more than 350 wineries and more than 5,020 acres (2,032 ha) under vine (by way of comparison Oregon, ranked number four, has 35,972 acres/14,557 ha in cultivation). According to the National Association of American Wineries, Texas ranks third behind only California and Oregon among states where the wine industry has the highest economic impact, with an overall impact of $13.1 billion.

While Texas’ reputation for hot, arid flatlands belies the significant variation in its topography, it is among the warmest of America’s winegrowing regions and is generally unused to extremities such as those captured above by winemaker Regan Meador of Southold Farm + Cellar, whose porch spent the week encrusted in ice.

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