CENTRAL TEXAS — Over the course of the past year and a half, we introduced you to a few business owners with some decades-long roots plated in their communities.
Those roots, growing well above the surface in the form of vines, with some of the country's sweetest grapes.
Yes, we’re talking about vineyard and winery owners.
However, with COVID-19, they faced obstacles only the restaurant industry could relate to.
“We’ve been very close to shutting down,” Steve Springer, owner of Axis Winery in Salado, told 25 News in October of 2020.
“In March we were down by a lot, more recently we’ve been off by about 20 percent,” June Ritterbusch, owner of Salado Winery and Salado Wine Seller, explained the same day.
Once Gov. Greg Abbott loosened restrictions, it seemed the wine industry was in the clear.
Not so fast.
Just a few months later, the state froze over.
”All of the restrictions, and the changes that the wineries had to adapt to, was really tough on them,”said January Wiese, executive director of Texas Hill Wineries.
However, let’s say we had a time machine and rewound time to before the pandemic.
You would experience a blossoming wine industry.
“It's us and Virginia,” Wiese said. “[We] bounce back and forth between fourth and fifth all the time”
In fact, in 2018, Texas was home to 352 wineries. Today? Well, you can visit over 500 of them.
It’s an industry, research from the National Association of American Wineries shows, brings in over $13 billion for our state’s economy.
“It's huge, has employees, families, and just supports the infrastructure of all of the cities and towns around,” Wiese said. “Hospitality, lodging, dining, to you know, tourism, tour companies, all that stuff… it has a huge impact across the state.”
She said the best thing you can do to support these business owners as they continue to navigate the pandemic... is easy.
Go to their business, taste some wine and maybe even bring home a bottle.