grape growing adventures at Salado Vineyard

Bird Netting 2023

One thing we have struggled with over the last few years is birds!  I used to think there were birds who ate bugs and birds who ate seeds and that I would only have to worry about a few species who like grapes, but it turns out almost every bird eats grapes!  Well, I guess I’ve never seen raptors or vultures swoop down and grab a snack, but I have definitely seen all other birds grab a grapes or worse, stab a grape to get to the seed.  One time I posted on social media a cute picture of a little bird nest with sweet eggs and pretty grapes in the background.  Someone responded with, “oh let them be, they’ll only eat a few grapes…”.  NO, they don’t eat a few grapes.  First the mockingbirds show up, then the cardinals.  When the rest of the birds in the neighborhood see the cardinals and mockingbirds, then they all descend.

So we have been netting the vineyard for years.  Unfortunately, the method we used in the past wasn’t working out anymore.  The netting was now being shipped on cardboard tubes that were too small to fit our custom net applicator.  Plus the netting was not a perfect solution.  The birds hung on the nets and poked the grapes through the netting.  So only grapes in the interior were actually safe. On top of that, the netting was disposable, but that didn’t seem very regenerative and clearly that’s the buzzword of the day.  (Make sure you have a cynical tone of voice when reading the word ‘regenerative’)

I browsed the options at the TWGGA trade show.  I studied pictures and I started thinking about how last summer, the bees & wasps were bothering folks even in the dark when we started harvest at 5 am.  Hmmmm, could we really protect the fruit from the wasps?

I hemmed and hawed and looked at the endless internet. I was intrigued about the bee netting, but it is expensive! This blog post convinced me I needed to make an experiment. Finally, I ordered  a roll of bee netting from Orchard Valley Supply.

I have been so pleased!  I ordered one roll and saw immediately that it stopped the bugs.  There happened to be a sale, so a couple days after applying the first roll, I ordered 3 more rolls.  This was enough to cover about 40% of the vineyard.  I will order more next year.  The rolls and shipping are relatively expensive, but these nets look like they will last a long time.  Now I just have to figure out where to store the nets in the off season.

netting is shipped in a roll and easy to roll out

netting is 17′ x 300′

side view

one way I might secure the bottoms

a frog is deterred by the bee netting!

sorry charlie! you’re not getting in

no grapes for you!

yet another grasshopper trying to find some food

even this tiny snail didn’t find a way in

vineyard panorama

bird sitting on the netting and can’t get grapes

End of roll-will pack it up this way after harvest

this picture shows how I secured the sides at the end posts

I’m pretty happy with my new netting!

June 2023

Well June 2023 was certainly hot!  Good thing we had lots of rain in May.  The grapes are looking good and by the end of June we are seeing veraison starting.  Veraison is the fancy word for changing color.  The grapes no longer grow bigger and at this point we sort of coast until harvest.  Stay tuned as we will set the date for chardonnay harvest soon!

beginning of veraison

Vineyard May 2023

The vineyard is doing well. Plenty of rain this month has really made the vines happy.

caberenet sauvingon looking good

Vineyard–late April

The vineyard is in full bloom!  I always tell folks that grapes don’t have exciting blooms like cherry trees or peach trees, but grapes still are fruit and they start with a bloom.

We received another inch of rain last week and the vineyard has gone crazy with new growth.

More rain in the forecast, praying that the hail and storms do not damage the vineyard.

selfie of June with grape cluster blooming in vineyard

look at these babies!

Vineyard mid-April 2023

Wow!  Nothing like 2 inches of rain to make the grapevines grow.

The chardonnay vines are beginning to bloom.  Wine grape blossoms are nothing like beautiful cherry blossoms.  If you look very closely though, you can identify the pistil which is located in the center of the flower and shaped like a bowling ball.  The pistil is made up of three parts: the stigma, style, and ovary.  That is surrounded by anthers and filaments.  The pollen develops on the anther.  Wine grapes are self-pollinating, so they don’t need the help of insects to spread the pollen.

I hope you enjoy my picture!

chardonnay flowers

chardonnay flowers before forming fruit

Spring Pruning 2023

Spring has sprung!

cabernet sauvignon shoot in early spring

Cabernet Sauvignon
on March 27, 2023

And you know what? It has already been a roller coaster my friends!  Eeek!

First of all, the grapevines started growing about 2 weeks earlier than is normal.  We hit 90 degrees Fahrenheit during the 3rd week of February, so the grapevines took that as their signal to GROW!  Bud break began, but the weather was too hot and the grapevines showed evidence of “cupping” from the heat and the warm wind.  The leaves were malformed and the vines looked terrible.

After a couple weeks, they outgrew the first missteps, but then we had a freeze nearby on the morning of March 19th. Many of my friends’ vineyards in the area suffered widespread freeze damage.  🙁

But now here we are, already a month of growth in the chardonnay, and the outlook is improving.  Please keep your fingers crossed!

This vineyard was planted in 2005 and has produced over 50 tons of grapes since then.

New Buds Blooming

Spring is officially here and we have new fruit coming in as the season gets warmer.

Another harvest season is just around the corner in August! Let the count down begin.

When is Harvest 2021?

As I mentioned before, the February freeze has greatly reduced the amount of chardonnay grapes (Night Flight)  and sangiovese (Rootin’ Tootin’). There will not be any public harvests for those grapes as there are not enough to pick.

The good news? The cabernet sauvignon (which is used in Diamond Back) is extra happy this year!  It is a little too early to guess exactly when it will be ready, but most likely we will pick it during a Saturday in August. PROBABLY August 21st? Check back here in August and see which Saturday it will be.

You can RSVP on eventbrite here or follow our facebook event.

Scheduling harvest is a very tough decision and there is much thought that goes into it. I wrote a blog post here about it.

veraison time!

Harvest 2020

Come pick grapes with us at the vineyard at 21724 Hill Road, Salado! OR just pose like you are picking grapes! Harvest as much or as little as you enjoy. You can even eat some straight from the vine! Harvest is family friendly.

Wear comfortable, cool clothing and tennis shoes. You’ll want to bring a hat, sunscreen, water, and bug spray. Since it is 2020, wear your favorite face-mask and spread out in the vineyard. We’ll provide everything else you need. We will start bright and early at sunrise but most folks come about 7am or later and go until all the grapes are picked, usually about 10 or 11 am.

After harvest in the morning. Our grapes will be de-stemmed and crushed and prepared for fermentation at the winery.

RSVPs/Tickets are not required, but check out facebook page if there is unexpected weather or updates. or register at

join us to pick grapes

Salado Winery Merlot and Sangiovese Harvest

***YES! let’s do this!!! We will pick 3 rows of merlot and 2 rows sangiovese*****

Make your Instagram friends super jealous! Come pick grapes with us at the vineyard at 21724 Hill Road, Salado, TX! You can even eat some straight from the vine! Harvest is family friendly. Wear comfortable, cool clothing and tennis shoes. You’ll want to bring a hat, sunscreen, water, and bug spray. We’ll provide everything else you need. We will start bright and early at 7am and go until all the grapes are picked.

Hecho en Queso might be at the vineyard offering breakfast for sale 🙂 We will clarify as the date gets closer!

After harvest in the morning, you can join us at the winery to watch grape processing. Our grapes will be de-stemmed and crushed using a machine then pressed and prepared for fermentation.

welcome to harvest sign next to open gate to vineyard.  sun rising in background