Terry County named Grape Capital of Texas

Terry County named Grape Capital of Texas

Russell Lepard has been growing wine grapes since 2007 and says the county's new designation will help growers expand.

"It's a great thing for us. Anytime we can get recognition for the things we're doing, it helps our industry," he says. "Our infrastructure needs to grow along with us. There is need for more things like equipment, then the industry is following that need. Naturally when there wasn't a lot here, it wasn't worth the time or the money for people like B&E Implements to get into the infrastructure part of it. But now that we've got this acreage and we're buying pieces of equipment each year, then they decided, hey we want to be a part of this."

The designation came after a push by the Brownfield Chamber of Commerce. Growers and supporters in Terry County sent grape acreage information to State Senator Charles Perry. He introduced Resolution 41 in late April, and Lubbock Representative Dustin Burrows sponsored the bill in the House. Burrows says the designation "truly shines light on the importance of an agriculture community such as Terry County and its significance to the State of Texas' economy. Terry County is home to generations of hard-working Texans who have developed an outstanding agricultural business acumen to develop world-class wine grapes."

On June 17, Governor Abbott made Terry County the official Grape Capital of Texas.

Katy Jane Seaton with the High Plains Winegrowers Association says this will not only help growers, but also those who live in  the county.

"With wine, usually comes the other finer things that are soon to accompany. You have the food industry," she says."There's wine bars and internet cafes and things like that that accompany this great lifestyle."

The wine grape acreage in Terry County is expanding rapidly. Last year, the acreage on the High Plains doubled. This year, even more vines are being planted.

"We've had a doctor out of Lubbock this year who this season, did an entire huge planting, 350 acres, which is considerable," Seaton says. "I think we're going to continue to grow, maybe not that much. That will be just a few pivotal people that have the capital, but right behind them comes 10 and 20 acre plantings, and they add up."

Lepard is expecting a great harvest this year.

"We have the best crop we've had in about three years, but it's nothing necessarily that I've done because farmers," he says. "We just pretty much plant and water and fertilize and kind of keep things clean. But we've had the weather like we've had this year, it's been very blessed to have a lot of production and we're looking forward to a wonderful harvest that will start in about six weeks."

If you want an up close look at these West Texas grapes, there will be a Taste of Terry County event on Saturday, August 1.

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