Wine industry growth a 'harvest' for everyone

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Two things in this week’s newspaper bode well for the growing wine industry in our area.

First, 29 students received their viticulture certificates from Texas Tech University-Fredericksburg at a ceremony on Saturday at the Hill Country University Center. The number of graduates in this third class totaled more than the first two classes combined, which is a sign that this area of study is receiving attention and giving area growers the tools they need to establish or improve their vineyards.

In addition to viticulture — the science and study of the production of grapes — the university also will offer students this fall a certificate in enology — the study and science around all aspects of wine making. The demand is high for this type of study and it will only help improve the offerings from area wineries.

Having a higher education presence, particularly one that is so catered to this area’s interest and industry, is a great thing for the town. We appreciate Texas Tech’s investment in bringing in another industry-related professor, one who will be located on site at TTU-Fredericksburg.

Another amazing aspect of these courses is that, while many students are from local wineries, many others have come from across the state and the nation. As some of the vineyard-working students at Saturday’s ceremony attested, other parts of Texas are seeking to duplicate the success of the 290 Wine Corridor in their region. Other students have even come from other states, including Colorado and California, to name a few.

Second, the future Texas Center for Wine and Culinary Arts also received another boost from the Hill Country Wine and Music Festival, which celebrates the grape and that industry’s growth. On Monday, directors for the festival presented the third $10,000 check for the TCWCA, a significant boost to its initial fundraising goal to get the center constructed and under way. We are appreciative to the festival’s organizers for their support of this project, and we encourage all who are able to donate and help get this center — which promises to be an incredible draw for the town — off the ground.

The two events point to how this area will continue to benefit from the investment of time, hard work and dollars into this industry. That we are nestled in the center of what is becoming one of the fastest-growing wine regions in the U.S. is  a blessing, not only to these businesses, but to other retailers, restaurants and even local governments, which benefit from the increased sales tax activity.

And we couldn’t ask for a “greener” industry. Part agriculture, part craft, part retail and part tourism, the wine industry attracts an enviable demographic and has created hundreds of jobs in the process.

When you consider how many small, one-horse towns that rely on a single manufacturer as the backbone of their economy, and all the risk that entails, it’s easy to see how this area is fortunate to have wine as a staple industry.

We thank everyone involved with the Hill Country Wine and Music Festival and all who supported it. Their continued support of the TCWCA will help further this industry’s growth and attract more businesses and visitors to town.

We also praise Texas Tech for their continued investment into this growing industry.

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