Well, it may not feel like it, folks, but despite that cool breeze, the gentle cloud cover and the ample rain, this is, in fact, the month of May, and y’all know what that means…PEACHES. Or at least, that’s what it used to mean. In recent years, however, I’m not so certain.
For anyone who thinks the best peaches come out of Georgia, I’d invite you to visit Fredericksburg in the Texas Hill Country. It’s a long standing Texas tradition to make a weekend trip out to Fredericksburg and pick a bushel of your own peaches to turn into peach cobbler or just gobble up on the ride home.
I had that in mind over Easter weekend when my Mom came to town for a visit, and we decided to bring her out to Wildseed Farms for the day on Saturday. It should be a beautiful drive, I thought, the peaches will almost be ripe.
Where have all the peaches gone?
As we headed out 281 to 290 however, I began to notice something. The peach orchards were few and far between, and we saw a few that were obviously closed, the store fronts boarded up and weathered, and the trees grown over, unwatered, fruitless and neglected.
What we did see, however, were vineyards. Dozens of vineyards. I lost count after 20. Now, those who know me know that I am not one to pooh-pooh wine. I love me some wine, just as much as the next overworked and exhausted mom. A wine-tour weekend in Fredericksburg has been on my bucket list for many years now. But is Fredericksburg turning into Texas’s new wine country, with no more room for peaches?
Is wine taking over Fredericksburg?
I asked my friend Jen Evans at The Sugar Vine her opinion on the topic. “Texas wine is becoming more well-known and respected in the industry as more people try and like it,” she informed me. “I don’t know if I would say we’re at the boom phase yet- but I would definitely say we’re in a period of rapid growth that could lead to a boom.”
The Texas wine industry has been experiencing a lot of expansion for the past few years due to an activity known as “agritourism” – basically, visiting a place because of that region’s produce. The Austin American Statesman covered the topic in 2015, in which they stated that peach orchard acreage still covers almost twice the ground that vineyards do. This is amplified by the fact that many of the wineries on the 290 corridor actually import grapes from other areas, including out of state, to make their wine. Which means that a few of those vineyards you see are just for show.
So are Fredericksburg peaches going the way of the dinosaur? Hardly. The peach industry is still going strong, and in fact, the wine industry may be helping it. Russ Studebaker of Studebaker Farm told the Statesman, “Twenty-five years ago, there wasn’t much traffic until school was out, and in August it started dying. Now there’s a steady stream.” So though wine may be getting all the buzz (pun intended), let’s not forget about the tree-ripened peaches.
Here are a few places you can still go to pick your own peaches this Summer:
Fredericksburg TX 78624