Salado, TX — 2020 may not be a favorite year for some, but for many central Texas wineries, it has been a record breaking year. “With sales down and harvests and yields up we have had much more time for winemaking this summer” says owner of Salado Winery, June Ritterbusch. “There is so much more grape growing in this area than there was when we started 15 years ago, we were excited to take advantage of the opportunities available to us this year”.
June Ritterbusch and her husband, Sheldon Vickers harvested nearly 3 tons of grapes from their vineyard here in Salado. They grow chardonnay, merlot, sangiovese and cabernet sauvignon. The vineyard was planted in 2005 and in 2006 they harvested the first 500 lbs. Since then, their harvests have ranged from 1-4 tons each summer. The spring weather was perfect for growing grapes. Ritterbusch says, “usually March is one of our busiest months with folks heading out on spring break, and of course our annual Texas Wine and Rogue Art Fest. Due to COVID, it was one of our slowest months since we opened in 2005. That meant I had plenty of time to work on pruning more carefully than I normally do”.
In addition to processing grapes from their Salado vineyard, Ritterbusch and Vickers have been buying grapes from 3 Texans Vineyard in Temple, Texas since 2012. “Normally we make wine from 3-6 tons of their grapes, but this year they brought us 11 tons of grapes”.
“So then we decided to buy grapes from a new winery in Lorena, Texas, Country Springs Vineyard and Wine Garden. We purchased 2 tons of muscat and 2 tons of mourvedre from them.” The biggest amount they had ever fermented in the past was about 8 tons in one year.
“In total, we processed 17 tons of grapes and from that we made 3000 gallons of wine.” That is enough to fill more than 15,000 wine bottles. “We feel quite positive about the future,” Ritterbusch says. “We have been keeping busy and we have made large investments in equipment and inventory, but most importantly we have a great crew. Both paid and unpaid we have fabulous folks who work with us and tremendous friends who help us get through it all.”