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Texas A&M viticulture expert: Grape growing, vineyards booming in Texas

A Texas A&M University viticulture specialist will speak Thursday, July 9, at Stephen F. Austin State University about grape growing in Texas. Assistant professor Justin Scheiner says grape and wine production is growing by leaps and bounds in Texas. He expects crop acreage to one day surpass citrus. Scheiner says with about 600 vineyards and several hundred wineries, many types of people are getting into the grape business.

“We learn from each growing season, each vintage. We improve year by year. The people in the industry are absolutely fantastic,” Scheiner said, one of several viticulture experts at Texas A&M. “You have an eclectic group of people who range from farmers and ranchers, to medical doctors and engineers. All sorts of professionals enter the grape and wine industry in Texas.”

The muscadine grape is native to East Texas and the Gulf Coast. Schiener says there are about 100 varieties. Some are more suitable for table grapes while other varieties work better for wine making. Texas ranks fifth in the nation for wine production, Scheiner says, just behind Oregon.

“There is an increasing demand for Texas wine. We produce more than 3 million gallons each year, and a large majority of that is consumed in Texas. That’s just because we consume so much wine. Other states would be interested in it as well,” Scheiner said.

Scheiner’s talk is titled “Grapes for Table and Wine -- Can both fit in Texas?” 

Scheiner holds a doctoral degree in horticulture from Cornell University.

His lecture will take place in the Ina Brundrett Conservation Education Building at SFA’s Pineywoods Native Plant Center, 2900 Raguet St., at 7 p.m., as part of the Theresa and Les Reeves lecture series.

Chuck Smith brings more than 30 years' broadcast and media experience to Red River Radio. He began his career as a radio news reporter and transitioned to television journalism and newsmagazine production. Chuck studied mass communications at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia and motion picture / television production at the University of California at Los Angeles. He has also taught writing for television at York Technical College in Rock Hill, South Carolina and video / film production at Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport.