Land Suitability Analysis of the Fredericksburg Viticulture Area in the Texas Hill Country
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractIn the last 50 years, commercial vineyards in Texas have increased to more than five hundred. Wine production has tripled since 2012, making Texas the fifth largest wine producer in the United States. Like California’s Napa Valley, the Texas Hill Country is ripe for agritourism and wine cultivation bringing millions of visitors and billions of dollars to the state annually. Vineyards continue to increase, but most new owners lack agricultural experience. Due to its unique climate and lack of historical data, Texas growers and winemakers are still determining the best use of terrain while navigating harsh weather and regional hazards. Proper site selection is crucial. Spatial analysis of climate, soil and terrain characteristics was used to determine variables with the most impact on land suitability in the Fredericksburg viticulture region of the Texas Hill Country. Geospatial software was used to create a weighted overlay model of potential variables. Surface analysis found aspect, slope, solar radiation, flood frequency, drainage class, current land usage and available water storage to be statistically significant to this study. Potential areas were ranked on a scale of one to five, with one being permanently unsuitable and five being highly suitable for viticulture. Results found 594 acres or 27% to be highly suitable, 1,158 acres or 53% to be moderately suitable, and 430 acres or 20% not suitable for viticulture. Results of this study could help growers select prime areas for viticulture, but site-specific climate, environmental, and varietal specific factors should also be taken into consideration.