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Bell Mountain

Technical Summary

The Bell Mountain viticultural area is located in Gillespie County, Texas. This AVA is entirely contained within the Hill Country AVA and covers approximately 3200 acres on the south and southwestern slopes of Bell Mountain in northeast Gillespie County. Bell Mountain AVA was the first designated AVA in Texas, and was established in November 1986. This area is on the southwest slopes of Bell Mountain and elevations range from 505 meters to approximately 596 meters. The areas of highest elevation are located in the northern parts of the AVA with some areas of high elevations in the south. The central part of the AVA forms a valley between the areas of high elevation in the north and south. Several tributaries of the Colorado River, including the Llano and Pedernales rivers, cross the region west to east and join the Colorado as it cuts across the region to the southeast. These rivers drain to a large portion of the Hill Country thus having a tremendous effect on drainage in the region. The Guadalupe, San Antonio, Frio, and Nueces rivers originate in the Hill Country.

Soils

The region is dominated by 2 soil associations, Luckenbach-Pedernales-Heaton and Nebgen-Campair-Hye, with the latter covering over 50% of the region. Soil texture consists of clay and sandy loams at depths to 200cm with bedrock at depths greater than 200cm. The available water capacity of the area ranges from 13-25cm at depths of 100 to 250cm for the clay loam, while sandy loams range from 9-11cm at the same depths. The overall average available water capacity (AWC) is approximately 15cm. The average pH of the Bell Mountain AVA is 7.10 and ranges from 6.6-7.80. The average soil depth of the region is approximately 112cm with an average permeability rate of 5.50cm/hr. Bulk density values in the area are 1.77g/cm3.

Climate

The macroclimate in this region is influenced by the effects of the entire hill country as it is located in the heart of the Texas Hill Country. Annual precipitation values within the boundaries of the region ranged from 85-91cm with the most precipitation experienced during the month of September. The minimum temperatures are dominated by high diurnal variation in the winter months and more steady temperatures throughout the summer. The same pattern of variation in the winter months is experienced with mean temperatures which appear to be influenced by maximum temperature extremes in the summer months. Minimum temperature extremes and frost is experienced in March with temperatures dropping to as low as -10ºC.

The Cumulative growing degree days (April-October, 10ºC base) in the Bell Mountain AVA ranges from 2764 to 2874 days (ºC). Higher solar radiation is experienced in higher elevations throughout the regions especially during the ripening period and fall months. Lower vapor pressure is exhibited in areas of low elevation in spring and early summer. Higher values of vapor pressure are experienced in the areas of lower elevation in the mid to late summer and during the ripening period months. The trend in number of frost days throughout the Bell Mountain AVA is greater number of frost days in areas of highest elevation.

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