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.
This article is my monthly column at JancisRobinson.Com, Alder on America, and is usually available only to subscribers of her web site. If you’re not familiar with the site, I urge you to give it a try. It’s only £8.50 a month or £85 per year ($11/mo or $111 a year for you Americans) and well worth the cost, especially considering you basically get free, searchable access to the Oxford Companion to Wine ($65) and maps from the World Atlas of Wine ($50) as part of the subscription costs. Click here to sign up.