LUBBOCK, Texas — The growing season for grapes in Texas has been a challenge for many producers. Grape growers across the state mostly rely on rain, and the drought caused many vines to die due to the lack of water.
10 years ago, Charise and Ted Adams moved just outside of the city to begin farming. They started Joshua Farm and Vineyard. With five acres of grapes already on the property, they thought they were set, but that wouldn’t be the case.
They said when the struggle to harvest grapes became too much, they chose an alternative.
“We found out that we got very little for them, and then, the grapes started declining,” Ted Adams said. “So we had to make a choice there to rebuild the vineyard.”
The upkeep of grapes was difficult and their plants became infected. They replanted but said it can take three years to harvest grapes.
They began making the oldest alcoholic drink called mead, also known as honey wine.
“We started making honey wine,” Ted Adams said. “You use the honey for the sugar source instead of grapes.”
Charise said many wines are only 33% grape juice.
“The rest of it is added,” Charise Adams said. “Added sugar, added water, added candy, fruit, whatever, to try to get the sugar level up, and they don’t have to tell you that. They’re robbing people in a lot of ways of having that experience of knowing what the grape tastes like, from that vineyard on that year.”
Charise Adams always got headaches when she drank wine. Now, she has nothing to whine about, as they now make wine without harmful preservatives.
“It’s the sulfites and the additives that they put in the wine that you’re not expecting and nobody expects when they buy a bottle of wine to have those things in it,” Charise Adams said. “My husband told me it probably is the sulfides, so let’s try to make one that’s clean. I have no problems with it now.”
The Adams’ said not only are their ingredients higher quality, but it also saves them a lot of time.
“It only takes 50 days to make a batch of honey wine,” Ted Adams said. “Whereas grape wine, I mean, it still ages, and it gets better as it goes time goes along, but grape wine typically takes about twice that much time to make.”
Many grape wine labels don’t list ingredients, but honey winemakers have to.
“If you’re paying for pinot wine, you want that grape, you don’t want a third of it, and then the rest of it is water and sugar,” Charise Adams said. “That’s what we call punch, that’s not wine. We need to educate ourselves and know what is in the wine that we’re drinking and then we can enjoy it and celebrate.”
It’s been two years since the Adams’ last planted grapes. They hope to have their grapes fully harvested next year so they are able to once again make wine with them. In the meantime, they will continue making honey wine for their family and others to enjoy.