"Grape Harvest"

We’ve been talking all summer about the drought and the excessive heat that has stressed plants and animals alike, so it might surprise you to learn that some ag producers actually benefited from the extremes we experienced. Joe Brown has more in this week’s From The Ground Up.

"All of our vineyards in Texas are irrigated, so fortunately, when you have a dry year like this year, we can control the moisture, which is actually better for us than when you're subject to rain. So this year was really perfect with regard to minimal rain, maximum control on the vineyard."

Wine maker and grape farmer Paul Bonarrigo says the 2009 drought produced smaller yields.

"You wind up with about 25% less yield, but a much higher quality grape."

"Quality, to a great extent is determined by sugar content in the grape and so the more sweetness in the grape, meaning the healthier the plant, the more disease free it is."

Stress is usually a bad thing, whether you’re talking about a corn plant, or a beef cow. Not so with grapes, says Bonarrigo.

"You really want to see a vineyard that's struggling a bit. You want to see fruit that's kind of puckered up and dehydrated. A great wine is from a vine that has been stressed. The heat causes dehydration of the juice, so you wind up with a lower percentage of water and a higher percentage of solids, so you really wind up with a wine that is ultimately fabulous."

So this year’s drought and the heat was good for Messina Hof.

"I really think 2009 will rival 1991. We have to go back that far before we saw this much heat during the ripening season which translated into really superior fruit."

Mother Nature always produces winners and losers in any given year. I’m Joe Brown, looking at Brazos Valley agriculture, From The Ground Up.

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