Second Blanc Du Bois Symposium in Texas to be held May 10 in Cat Spring

CAT SPRING — The second Blanc Du Bois Symposium in Texas, presented by the Austin County Grape Growers Committee, the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association, will take place from 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. May 10 in Cat Spring.

The symposium will be held at the Cat Spring Agricultural Society Hall, 13035 Hall Road.

Topics will include presentations, information on vineyard management, research updates and insights into wine-making techniques using Blanc Du Bois grapes grown in regions throughout the southeastern U.S.

The second-ever Blanc Du Bois symposium in Texas will take May 10  in Cat Spring. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo courtesy of Fritz Westover)

The second-ever Blanc Du Bois symposium in Texas will take place May 10 at the Cat Spring Agricultural Society Hall. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo courtesy of Fritz Westover)

“The first Blanc Du Bois symposium in Texas six years ago had speakers, wine-grape growers and winemakers from throughout Texas and the southeastern U.S., and this year’s symposium is expected to rival or better the first,” said Fritz Westover, AgriLife Extension viticulture specialist, Houston.

Registration will be from 8:30-9 a.m. with presentations to follow. The cost is $65 per person,  which will be collected at the door and may be paid by cash, check or charge card. It includes materials, refreshments, catered lunch and wine social.

Texas is the nation’s top producer of wines from Blanc Du Bois grapes, and currently more than 20 commercial wineries make vintages from these grapes, according to the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association. The state currently has more than 150 acres of the grape in production, with Austin County alone boasting more than 30 acres.

“Among others, we are hoping the symposium draws people either interested or involved in wine-grape production in the Texas Gulf Coast area,” said Philip Shackelford, AgriLife Extension agent for agriculture and natural resources, Austin County. “With agricultural available tracts becoming smaller, wine-grape production may provide a good alternative to more traditional agricultural production around the Gulf Coast. Vineyards require less space than other agricultural activities, and experience has shown us that the Blanc Du Bois does well in this region. Plus, it’s more Pierce’s disease resistant than other grape varieties.”

According to viticulture experts, Pierce’s disease, which is caused by the Xylella fastidiosa bacterium, is the single greatest threat to the Texas wine industry and has cost the industry millions of dollars in lost production since 1990.

Symposium topics and speakers include:

– Disease and Pest Management for Blanc Du Bois, Westover.

– Growing Blanc Du Bois in Austin County, Jerry Watson, Austin County Vineyards, Cat Spring.

– Training Systems for Blanc Du Bois: Research Results, Westover.

– Blanc Du Bois Through Wine Chemistry and Sensory, Bénédicte Rhyne, Winecountry Consulting, Fredericksburg.

– Diversification of Blanc Du Bois Wine Styles, Raymond Haak, owner of Haak Winery, Santa Fe, Tex.

– Growing and Making Blanc Du Bois at Lost Oak Winery, Jim Evans, enologist, Lost Oak Winery, Burleson.

– Blanc Du Bois Production at William Chris Winery, Chris Brundrett, William Chris Winery, Hye.

Presentations will be followed by a speaker panel discussion from 3:20-4 p.m. on grape growing and wine-making. A wine reception and opportunity to visit with exhibitors will be from 4-5 p.m.

To RSVP to help ensure an accurate meal count, contact the AgriLife Extension office in Austin County at 979-865-2072 or email austin-tx@tamu.edu. For more information, contact Shackelford at the same number or email P-shackelford@tamu.edu.

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