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Love to taste, talk and tweet about Texas wines and where they are in the global scheme for wines. After all that's the only way they will reach the full potential.

Oct 012013
 

Gruene-M&W-Fest-2013

27th Annual Gruene Music & Wine Festival - October 10-13, 2013

You’re Invited…Share with a Friend! 4 Days. 4 Distinct Events.

Mark your calendars and raise your glasses, the 27th Annual Gruene Music & Wine Festival is right around the corner! Join fellow Texas wine aficionados for a weekend full of Texas music, wine and food, all to benefit the United Way of Comal County. Tickets are available at www.gruenemusicandwinefest.org.

Thanks to generous sponsors (Ammo Advertising, Chase Bank, Frost Bank, First Commercial Bank, Gruene Hall, KNBT 92.1 FM Radio New Braunfels, Manrique Custom Vision Center, M&S Companies, New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung, and The Grapevine), this year promises to be better than ever!

Confirmed Texas wineries:

Bell Springs Winery, Bending Branch Winery, Bernhardt Winery, Blue Lotus Winery

Fall Creek Vineyards, Fawncrest Vineyard, Fiesta Winery

Georgetown Winery, Grape Creek Winery

Haak Vineyards, Hilmy Cellars, Inwood Estates Vineyards, Kerrville Hills Winery

Llano Estacado Winery, Los Pinos Ranch Vineyards, Maydelle Country Wines

Pleasant Hill Winery, Rohan Meadery, Salado Creek Winery, Santa Maria Cellars

Seifert Cellars, Three Dudes Winery, Texas Hills Vineyard, Texas Mead Works

Val Verde Winery, Wedding Oak Winery, Woodrose Winery

 Posted by at 10:48 am
Sep 222013
 

Come on Down for the Edible Escape in Marble Falls, Texas

Come on Down for the Edible Escape in Marble Falls on September 29th!

Edible Austin and Marble Falls Chamber of Commerce/CVB Present Edible Escape…”A Texas-style Artisanal Picnic”

On Sunday, September 29, Edible Austin and the Marble Falls Chamber of Commerce/CVB invite Central Texans to enjoy an escape from the city to discover all that Austin’s north and northwest neighbors have to offer. Edible Escape will be hosted at the beautiful Lakeside Pavilion (307 Buena Vista, Marble Falls, TX 78654) overlooking scenic Lake Marble Falls—bringing Edible Austin’s Travel Issue to life and benefiting the Helping Center of Marble Falls.

From 4 – 8 pm, this Texas-style artisanal picnic will allow guests to taste samples from regional chefs and food artisans, enjoy wine from eight featured local wineries and sip specialty cocktails mixed at the Tipsy Texan Cocktail Bar. The event will also feature a chef demonstration by Jack Gilmore of Jack Allen’s Kitchen, an artisan demonstration by Sebastien Caillabet of Celtic Seafare and a wine makers panel moderated by Dr. Russell Kane, author of The Wineslinger Chronicles: Texas on the Vine. During the event you can purchase copies of The Wineslinger Chronicles and Russ will available to personalize and autograph his book.

Marshall Ford Swing Band will set the mood with Texan swing-style tunes along with Go Dance offering professional dance lessons to get the crowd moving. Other activities will include a good old-fashioned cowboy boot contest sponsored by Harry’s and some creative painting fun provided by Pinot’s Palatte.

Tickets are on sale at edibleaustin.com/edibleescape. A limited number of Early Bird tickets are $35. Prices will go up to $45 when the Early Bird tickets are all sold out.  Guests must be 21 to attend.

For guests planning to make a weekend out of it, Edible Austin has created a Guide to Marble Falls to help plan a weekend adventure. Guests may also call for room rates available at the LaQuinta Inn & Suites in Marble Falls (830-798-2020).

Chef and Artisan Tastings By: 87BakeShop, Alamo Pecan and Coffee Company, Aquasana, Celtic Seafare, Jack Allen’s Kitchen, Noon Spoon Café, Otto’s German Bistro, Saucy’s Restaurant and Catering, Spiral Horn Apiary, Turtle Restaurant and Veldhuizen Cheese

Wine Tastings By: Brennan Vineyards, Hilmy Cellars, Messina Hof Winery, Pedernales Cellars, Perissos Vineyards, Pontotoc Vineyard, Texas Hills Vineyard and Wedding Oak Winery.

Presenting Sponsor: Marble Falls Chamber of Commerce & CVB

Community Sponsor: Marble Falls Economic Development Council

Click here for more information on this event and for online ticket sales for The Edible Escape.

– — – — –

 Helping Center of Marble Falls Area, Inc. is a 501 (c) (3) charitable organization, providing services specifically focused on food, financial support towards utility bills, antibiotics and short-term prescriptions to permanent residents of the southern Burnet County area. Non-residents, homeless and short-term residents can also qualify to receive food, assistance with lodging or other emergency financial support. The Helping Center is not funded through any form of government assistance or grants. Assistance is made possible solely by it’s volunteers and charitable donations from individuals and community organizations.

Edible Austin is a bi-monthly publication celebrating local food and food culture in Central Texas, season by season. Edible Austin is a member of Edible Communities, winner of the James Beard Foundation 2011 Publication of the Year Award and won the 2012 Austin Chronicle’s Readers Poll award for “Best Non-Chronicle Publication.”

 Posted by at 3:47 pm
Sep 202013
 

Mareen-Qualia

Texas Tech University Plant and Soil Science Department Adds Maureen Qualia as Enology Instructor

The Texas wine industry welcomes one of it’s own back to Texas in a vital role!

An experienced winemaker and production manager, who will specialize in enology, has been named an instructor in Texas Tech’s Department of Plant and Soil Science, according to officials within the University’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. Maureen Qualia officially stepped into her new post on September 1 of this year.

Based at Texas Tech’s Fredericksburg campus in the Texas Hill Country, Qualia will develop and teach the university’s new winemaking certificate program. She will also teach undergraduate enology classes in Lubbock via distance education, and offer technical workshops for local Hill Country wineries.

“Maureen grew up in the Texas wine industry working in the family business, Val Verde Winery in Del Rio,” said Ed Hellman, a professor of viticulture with Tech’s Department of Plant and Soil Science. “She spent summers helping with harvest and most holidays working in the tasting room.”

Following a year abroad in northern Italy, Qualia began undergraduate studies at the University of Texas-Austin and received a bachelor’s degree in nutrition in 2001. She spent several years working for a government non-profit agency in Austin teaching bi-lingual nutrition classes and broadened her international experience by traveling extensively through Central and South America.

In 2005, Qualia’s winemaking interests reawakened. She moved to California to pursue a master’s degree in enology at California State University-Fresno, which she received in 2008. In addition to enology coursework, her graduate experiences included teaching wine analysis, research in phenolic chemistry and sensory evaluation.

While still in California, Qualia worked in the California wine industry, holding positions in lab management, winemaking and wine production management. She worked at Napa Valley’s Silver Oak Cellars, Owl Ridge Wine Services in Sebastopol, Trione Vineyards and Winery in the Alexander Valley, and most recently serving as the head winemaker and production manager at J&J Cellars in Paso Robles.

“Many of her wines from J&J Cellars earned accolades and awards in both national and international wine competitions,” Hellman said.

– — – — –

VintageTexas:  I know that you will join me in welcoming Maureen Qualia back to Texas!

 Posted by at 2:39 pm
Sep 192013
 

Stop by and get your signed copy of The Wineslinger Chronicles

Doc Russ, Texas Wineslinger at Pedernales Cellars – Saturday, September 21st

It’s time for the old Texas Wineslinger, Russ Kane from VintageTexas, to dust off his Stetson and get the ink flowing in his trusty signing pen.

I’ve been invited to poke in at Pedernales Cellars in Stonewall, Texas (about 20 minutes east of Fredericksburg), this Saturday, September 21st at 12 noon for a presentation, reading, Q&A and signing of my bestselling book, The Wineslinger Chronicles: Texas on the Vine. So, come on by the Pedernales Cellars tasting room for a little sipping and signing. I look forward to seeing you there.

In The Wineslinger Chronicles, my reflections include explorations of Spanish missionary life and the sacramental wine made from Texas’s first vineyard as well as the love for grapes and wine brought subsequently by German and Italian immigrants from their homelands.

In this book, I also relate stories of the modern-day growers and entrepreneurs who overcame the lingering effects of temperance and prohibition—forces that failed to eradicate Texas’s destiny as an emerging wine-producing region. The book ends with a postscript, “A Winegrower’s Prayer”. It serves as a poignant reminder of the challenges that weigh heavy on those still defining the terroir of Texas’s wine frontier.

Oz Clarke, author of Pocket Wine Book and 250 Best Wines Wine Buying Guide, says, “Doc Russ is the kind of guy who can mix blues, barbecue, and Barbera in a truly Texan way, and as he writes I can smell the mesquite smoke, hear the wailing guitar and chew the High Plains ripe red fruit.”

Other events at Pedernales Cellars this Saturday include: Tapas and wine pairings, barrel tasting, wine club pick up, vineyard tours, Recipe time with Chef Nathan Stevens, Growing Texas Hill Country wildflowers with John Thomas from Wildseed Farms, “So You Want to Be a Sommelier?” with Master Sommelier Guy Stout. Click here for further details and times.

See you at Pedernales Cellars is located at 2916 Upper Albert Road, Stonewall, TX 78671; Tasting Room: 830-644-2037; for more information contact: info@pedernalescellars.com.

 Posted by at 10:03 pm
Aug 312013
 

TWGGA Holds First Legislative Forum: “For Sale in Texas Only Makes” the Initial Cut

The first in a series of Legislative Forums was held on Wednesday, August 14 in Austin. The Legislative Forums came out of a discussion at the June TWGGA Board of Directors meeting. The Texas Wine and Grape Grower Association (TWGGA) Board committed to hosting at least three forums prior to the 2015 Legislative Session to improve communication and decision making around the Association’s legislative efforts.

TWGGA President Ron Yates (without intervention from Bacchus) opened the August 14 meeting where a good cross section of large and small vineyards and wineries were represented along with many long-time and newer industry members, TWGGA board members, TWGGA members and industry members not associated with TWGGA present.

After a brainstorming session, the assembled group made a “non-prioritized” list of agenda items to be considered at their next meeting on September 12th. In addition to many industry issues regarding permitting and regulation changes listed for TWGGA action, the group included addressing the use of “For Sale in Texas Only” on Texas wine labels. This FSITO moniker usually reserved for wines made at Texas wineries from out-of-state grapes that cannot be qualified per federal regulations as authentic Texas wines.

It is good to see TWGGA apparently take up the FSITO issue as it leads to consumer confusion and is often misrepresented by people in the wine trade as Texas wine.

TWGGA is currently trying to prioritize their list of action items (FSITO is only one of 12 items identified which includes sales of beer at Texas wineries). If you feel strongly that scrapping “For Sale in Texas Only” labeling in favor of clearly and correctly stating the source of the grapes in Texas wine is a high priority matter, please let your feeling be known by contacting Dacota Haselwood by email at: dacota@twgga.org.

A Texas Winemaker and Winery Owner Pledge was issued on VintageTexas on clear and correct labeling of Texas wines that is still gaining supported (click here for more).

Remember, it is only through your input and persistence that FSITO will change!

– — – — –

AgRoundTable-img1

Cord Switzer- Fredericksburg Winery, Bob Young- Bending Branch Winery, Doug Lewis- Lewis Wines, Texas Department of Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, Ron Yates- Spicewood Vineyard and President Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association, John Rivenburgh- Bending Branch Winery and President Texas Hill Country Wineries

Agricultural Round Table – State of the Texas Wine Industry Meeting

This past week representatives from the Texas wine industry met with representatives from Texas Department of Agriculture, including Commissioner Todd Staples, Texas A&M, economic development corporations from surrounding counties, CVBs and other local businesses interested in the growing wine industry. This “first of it’s kind” meeting was initiated and hosted by Bending Branch Winery owners Bob Young and John Rivenburgh while lunch was provided by the Kendall County, Kerr County and Gillespie County Economic Development Corporation.

Education was a big topic, as it is needed throughout the industry from vineyard to winery in order to create growth and new jobs in the Texas wine industry. Both Texas Tech Texas with the Viticulture Certification Program, which recently graduated their 3rd class, and Texas A&M with research and experiential learning programs are geared towards these goals.

Dan Rogers, President/CEO Kendall County Economic Development Corporation, said, “The [wine] industry is becoming an economic engine in Texas and the economic development of this industry is a partnership with the State Department of Agriculture, local Economic development organizations and the tourism organization both State and local”.

The state currently has 308 wineries, employing over 10,000 Texans but we recently dropped from the 5th largest state in wine production to 6th. With the collaborative efforts of the associations and representatives in attendance, it is believed we can continue to grow and increase in production, jobs and awareness.

For more information on this Texas wine industry activity, contact January Wiese, Executive Director, Texas Hill Country Wineries by email at: January@TexasWineTrail.com  or  check their website at TexasWineTrail.com

 

 Posted by at 10:24 am
Aug 142013
 

Bacchus-in-Texas

The New Texas Wine Business Model: Response to “The Bacchus Rewrite” Blog

My question is directed at Andy Chalk at CraveDFW who recently wrote a creative and penetrating blog titled, “The TWGGA President’s Speech Replacement”. Click here to link to it. For those not involved in the Texas wine industry or related activities, TWGGA is the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association, the principal Texas wine industry trade, educational and political lobbying organization.

Andy, do you get the feeling like that some in the Texas wine industry would just like you to go away?

Andy, I particularly like your comment, “I once came across a Texas grape grower and winemaker who said that he had to resell California wine because there simply weren’t enough Texas grapes. It turned out he had been in business over twenty years. What has he been doing all that time? He could have plastered every square inch of the state with grapes. He isn’t short of Texas grapes because of an unanticipated bad harvest, he is short of Texas grapes by design. His business model is to grow a few grapes in Texas but to be a broker of California wine sold under the name of his Texas winery.”

However, it has only been about the past 5-10 years (literally a flash in time history shows that it takes to make a new quality wine appellation) that the Texas wine industry has been starting to realize the potential benefits in not emulating Bordeaux and Burgundy (or being a broker for California wine) in favor of making a play with a new Texas wine business model based on Mediterranean varietals that are better suited for our hot sunny summertime weather. However, this has been a bottom-up transformation with smaller wineries that sell primarily from their tasting rooms leading the charge with a plethora of “new” grape varieties that are not the old tried and true Cabernet, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay that California taught us to love. It’s been a re-education process both at the winery and with consumers. Some of the larger Texas wineries are the ones that are still entrenched in what Andy described as the “broker model” investing more in buying the leftover grapes and bulk wine (mainly from California) rather than working with growers for the long term good of the new Texas wine industry and the consumers they serve.

However, the other part of this difficult question is that Texas is a winegrowing region that is a bit schizophrenic. It’s a warm wine growing region alright, but  in some ways it’s more like Champagne – with bad cold weather particularly in the spring when the grapevines are starting to bud out. Consequently, not every year is going to be a vintage year (just like in Champagne). For this new Texas business model to be successful, it calls for more tank space to handling juice and storing wine properly for an extended period from the good years (just like they do in Champagne), making more multi-vintage wine (again just like in Champagne) and a greater emphasis on blends of wine to account for variable harvests (you guessed it – like done in Champagne).

It was encouraging to attend this week’s Texsom Conference  in Dallas. The Texas tasting on Sunday evening was a crush of people from the wine trade trying to squeeze into the Taste Texas Wines hospitality suite was organized and promoted by Denise Clarke and sponsored by Texas Monthly with special thanks to Jessica Dupuy’s focus on Texas wines on the Texas Monthly blog. The wineries that participated in the Taste Texas Wines (Pedernales Cellars, McPherson Cellars, Brennan Vineyards and Duchman Family Winery) seem to get it (click here). They see the future with Texas grown grapes and making wines from Mediterranean-derived grape varieties with correctly and clearly defined appellations on the bottle labels.

In my discussions with conference attendees and particularly with several Certified Advanced and Master Sommeliers, they see the abovemention move as the clear and correct way for the Texas wine industry to go (not as brokers for California wine). However, the barriers are still their: namely, getting some of the larger Texas wineries and their distributors to accept a new Texas wine business model and changes to their labels on their non-Texas wines from “appellationless” under “For Sale in Texas Only” to American or any other authorized appellation approved by the U.S. federal government.

Personally, I would like for TWGGA to evaluate this new business model and play a role in transitioning the industry onto a more productive and consumer-oriented path, rather than trying bury the present “broker” business model under the cloudy veil of “For Sale in Texas Only” labeling. I would also like the Texas legislature and Department of Agriculture to weigh in on this issue as well and figure out how they can support the new Texas wine business model for the betterment of rural Texans and the overall economic development of rural Texas. A previous Texas Ag Commissioner (Susan Coombs) saw this potential and supported the cause during her tenure. Where is the leadership now?

 Posted by at 9:00 am
Aug 112013
 

Texsom-Moscato-Muscat

At Texsom: Muscat beyond Moscato is where Texas is at!

It’s only the first day of the Texsom 2013 Texas Sommelier Conference at the Four Seasons Las Colinas and I’ve already found that Texas wines are relevant, especially when it comes to growing and making wine from the Muscat grape.

Unfortunately, the session did not highlight a Texas version of this highly characteristic grape. But, it was clear in the session titled “Muscat and Beyond” the flexibility of this grape (that just happens to grow well in Texas) has fueled the Muscat explosion in the wine industry with upwards of 25% growth year of year.

Variable wine styles – Muscat can accommodate that; variable crop loads – Muscat and handle that, too. Great tropical, floral and citrusy flavor and aroma component – Muscat’s got it covered.

We tasted wines from Austria, Alsace, Sutter Home (California but really from Chilean grapes), Italy, Sardinia, Australia. Please keep in mind that while not in this tasting – Texas is home to wonderfully floral dry, semi-sweet and full blown sweet Muscat wines.

I’m just glad to see that Texas with its focus on this currently very popular grape is keeping in step with the hip, rappin’ good wine fad of Moscato, and also knowing that it was popular here in Texas well in advance of the fad.

 Posted by at 3:13 pm
Aug 042013
 

Take-the-Pledge-2

Support is Building for the Texas Winemakers/Winery Owners Pledge

If you read my previous blog, you know that with the help of several people from the Texas wine industry, I’ve drafted a Texas Winemakers/Winery Owners Pledge (click here) or you can try to read the fine print in the photo above. It has created early support and generated a meaningful conversation among Texas wineries and consumers of Texas wine. This conversation has helped to make more visible what “For Sale in Texas Only” IS and what it ISN’T when it’s printed on a wine label from a Texas winery.

We have received nearly unanimous agreement on the follow points: Each winery should buy Texas fruit (where and when possible) and promote the appellation of Texas. Most respondents also agree that the GoTexan logo should not be used on non-Texas products. Additionally, within the Texas wine industry and especially from wine consumers, the consensus was that if Texas wineries made and sold wine where not enough Texas grapes were used in the wine to allow it to be labeled “Texas” appellation, then it should be clearly labeled “American” or another appropriate appellation of origin as allowed by the federal government that regulates wine labeling. Further, this non-Texas wine should NOT be labeled without an appellation of origin allowable when the label contains the phrase, “For Sale in Texas Only”.

As of today, the following Texas Winemakers and Winery Owners have indicated their support of the Texas Winemaker/Winery Owner Pledge:

Fredrik Osterberg, David & Julie Kuhlken – Pedernales Cellars

Pat Brennan – Brennan Vineyards

Jim Johnson – Alamosa Wine Cellars

Les Constable – Brushy Creek Vineyards

Gary Gilstrap – Texas Hills Vineyard

Dave Reilly and Stan Duchman – Duchman Family Winery

Doug Lewis – Lewis Wines

Billy Cox Jr. – Retreat Hill Winery

Chris Caldwell – Eaglefire Winery

Rick Magers – Grayson Hills Winery

Ben Calais – Calais Winery

Kert Platner – Times Ten Cellars

Gene Estes – Lost Oak Winery

To add your name as a winemaker, winery owner, wine industry or consumer supporter of The Pledge, send me an email russ@vintagetexas.com (cut and paste into your email).

Note: I have not officially heard from Llano Estacado Winery yet with respect to the pledge. However, I want to acknowledge that they are effectively following the terms of the pledge in their labeling in recent years. They lead by example…Go Llano Estacado! What about the other major Texas wineries? They’ve remained silent so far.

Both Texas wineries and Texas wine consumers need to embrace the fact that (due to the vagaries of Texas weather) non-Texas grapes are going to be an important part of the Texas wine experience for some time to come. The choice for Texas wineries is to use them as needed to supplement Texas grapes, but to do it clearly and honestly or try to hide it under the veil of “For Sale in Texas Only” labeling. My vote is for them to be open and honest by declaring the appellation of origin for these non-Texas grapes and for Texas wine consumers to be accepting while our industry tries to sort out it’s long term business model – what grapes it can sustainably grow and how to grow them.

Texas wine consumers and members of the wine trade that have indicated their support of the Pledge are:

Dale Robertson, Houston Chronicle, wine editor

Andy Chalk – Wine writer, columnist CraveDFW

Jeff Cope – Blogger, TXwineLover

Bill Elsey – Red Room Lounge, Advanced Sommelier

Jennifer Crawford – Texas wine consumer

Mark V. Fusco, CSW – Blogger @1337wine

Steven Krueger, Westin La Cantera Resort, Sommelier

Heidi Stine – Tempranillo Advocates Producers & Amigos Society

Julie Baker – Texas wine consumer

Jim Baker – Wine artist & blogger, TXwineGeek

Roger L Beery – wine writer, blogger, Bachus & Berry

Dave Potter – Texas wine consumer, blogger, The Grapes Around Texas

Gary Jones – blogger, Texas Wine Camp

Daniel Kelada – Texas Wine & Food Consortium

Leanne Holley – Editor, Texas Wine & Trail Magazine

Laurie Stevens Ware – Texas wine consumer

Darlene Wyatt Bruckbauer – Texas wine consumer

Maureen Demar Hall – Texas wine consumer

Lily Johnson – Texas wine consumer

 Posted by at 5:04 pm
Jul 312013
 

Take_the_Pledge

The Texas Winemakers/Winery Owners Pledge (and Good for Other Local Wine States, Too)

Some of you have seen the blog and reader comments over the past few days on CraveDFW (click here) on “For-Sale-in-Texas-Only” wine. I made an attempt to re-frame the discussion on my subsequent blog (click here) away from what Whole Foods and the state-supported GoTexan Program were doing to what Texas wineries were doing and what (in my opinion) should do. My thoughts focused on the ramifications of their using of the phrase “For Sale in Texas Only” on wine bottle labels versus having the wineries clearly label the source of the grapes used in this wine using “Texas” appellation*, “American” appellation or any of the other approved appellations given by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau at the U.S. Department of the Treasury – TTB (click here) that correctly describes the location of origin of the grapes in the wine.

The basis of my previous comments was that use of the confusing term “For Sale in Texas Only” – which some people actually have been told and others think means a special Texas product only for Texans). The situation is that such wines do not have enough Texas grapes in the wine to actually allow it to be a legal Texas wine according to the people that write the rules at TTB. In an effort to reduce or eliminate the use of “For Sale in Texas Only” on Texas wine bottle labels, I’ve developed a Texas Winemakers/Winery Owners Pledge as stated below:

Texas Winemakers/Winery Owners Pledge

I, (insert name & winery), pledge to the wine consumers of Texas that I will:

One: Where possible, based on price point, quality, and the competitive price in the marketplace, buy Texas grapes or use estate grown grapes, and where sufficient Texas grapes are included in the wine, label this wine as Texas wine using one of the Texas appellations approved by the TTB.

Two: If due to price or availability of Texas grapes, it is necessary to make and sell wine made from out-of-state grapes, this wine will be labeled as “American” appellation or other legally approved non-Texas appellations approved by TTB. I will not use the label exclusion for appellation authorized by TTB under the phrase “For Sale in Texas Only”.

Three: Support efforts to expand production of Texas wine grapes using varieties that can be sustainably and economically grown in Texas and, where possible, include these varieties in my wines.Raise-Your-Hands

Do you want to support this pledge?

If you are a Texas winemaker or winery owner and wish to support in this pledge, I will post your name and link to your winery from this site. Likewise, if you are a Texas wine consumer and wish to voice your support of this pledge for clearer wine labeling, please send a comment to this blog and I will post your name on this site, too.

Is this Pledge Ill-Timed? I say no, and I hope you do to

Some in the Texas wine industry may feel that, with the bad weather experienced this past spring (that is expected to cause a further shortage of Texas grapes from the 2013 harvest), this pledge is ill-timed. However, it is precisely why Texas needs to address this issue now. It is because of the unpredictable nature of this situation that we will likely see out-of-state grapes play a significant and important role in our state’s wine production for the near term.

This pledge is offered now to help Texas winemakers, winery owners and wine consumers bring out-of-state grapes from the darkness of “For Sale in Texas Only” and into the light of their proper sources as defined by their legal appellations. This is not too much to ask.

Frankly, if a Texas winery can make a really great wine from out-of-state grapes, with appellation correctly stated on the label, I would not hesitate to try it and encourage others to do the same. Many international wine brands now offer wines from multiple appellations both within their state and sometimes internationally, and label them accordingly. I’m not ashamed to say that I have purchased Cupcake Sauvignon Blanc (appellated New Zealand) and their Shiraz (appellated Australia) several times and they were good wines with good value for money spent. We should not be ashamed if a Texas winery could do the same.

We would all like to see high quality and quantity Texas grapes predominate our state’s wines. This will reliability be achieved only through the continued hard work of Texas winegrowers and over an extended period of time, and only with the support of Texas winemakers, winery owners and consumers. This is precisely how great appellations are created. Unfortunately, there are few short cuts in this process.

I believe that everyone’s “eye” needs to be on the “ball” and support Texas grape growing and working to increase the supply of Texas grapes that can be grown economically and sustainable here in Texas. Make no mistake: this is no small task.

Additional Note: It is not just a Texas issue…

This wine labeling issue is not restricted exclusively to Texas. Just about every state involved in producing local wine has experienced a rapid growth in wineries. As such, there is also a shortage of local grapes and wineries in those states, too, and their wineries have looked to out-of-state grapes for a portion of the wines they offer. Let’s work to get rid of “For Sale in (write in the name of your state) Only”, too. If you live in one of these wine-producing states and wish to borrow this pledge for your winemakers and winery owners, please feel free to do so.

Llano-American-Appellation2

 Posted by at 2:32 pm
Jul 272013
 

For Sale in Texas Only – Is this Texas wine or not?

Dear Whole Foods Market, Please Remove Non-Texas Wine From Your Texas Wine Display [Redux]

or, “Where are you Grover Norquist when you need a winery to sign a pledge?”

Those of you that have read and perhaps participated in the discussion started by columnist Andy Chalk in the online article of this name on CraveDFW (lick here for link), know that it has sparked quite a lively discussion (or what appropriately might be called an argy-bargy).

I’m now going a step further and calling for Messina Hof Winery, Becker Vineyards and Fall Creek Vineyards to follow their large Texas winery brethren, Lubbock’s Llano Estacado Winery, and drop the use of the confusing term “For Sale in Texas Only” for their non-Texas wine in favor of the use of American appellation. Where are you Grover Norquist when you need a winery to sign a pledge?

My edited response to Slinwood on Andy Chalk’s blog on CraveDFW posted early today is below…

The situation cited by Andy in Dry Comal Creek is just one example. But, if you go to just about any wine retail location in Texas (Kroger, Randalls, HEB and Trader Joes (to name just a few that sell a significant volume of wine from Texas wineries), you will mostly see wine from a few Texas wineries (mostly the major labels) that have the unfortunate appellation-less label moniker “For Sale in Texas Only”. As both Andy and I have said is that in most all cases, these FSITO wines are legally sold appellation-less by the federal labeling laws (from www.ttb.gov) and composed of by-and-large mostly non-Texas grapes are sold under nearly the same labels these same wineries use for their Texas appellation wines at their wineries. This is confusing at least, and at most, disingenuous, but nevertheless outrageous.

As you said, “What about Becker Vineyards’ Chardonnay, Iconoclast, and Malbec wine labels which state “For Sale in Texas Only”? What about Fall Creek’s Cabernet Sauvignon wine label which states, “For Sale in Texas Only”? What about McPherson’s Sangiovese wine label which states, “For Sale in Texas Only”? What about Messina Hof’s Pinot Noir, wine label which states, “For Sale in Texas Only.” As you can see, there are many renowned wineries on this list.”

Yep, there are many that play this charade with Texas wine consumers, and they don’t have too!

I have to hand it to Llano Estacado, they have stopped using FSITO and provide honest information when their non-Texas wine is labeled as American appellation wine. I just wish that more Texas wineries would accept the same policy.

I understand completely that there are certain and important reasons why Texas needs to import grapes/wine from other appellations. The first reason is price point (Texas grapes are more expensive than other states that have much higher volume and lower cost to produce). The second reason is the weather (this year is an example of a quadruple whammy of spring freezes that dropped grape production in Texas to 10-30 percent in some areas). However, using the veil of FSITO only acts to confuse consumers that want a true Texas appellation wine and blurs the issue to the point that some wineries bring in cheap out of state grapes and charge premium prices and often use misleading statements and confusing labels to sham Texas wine consumers.

I agree wholeheartedly that the people that work to grow Texas grapes and make true Texas wines are people of grit and determination and they have my deep respect. (See and read: http://wineslinger.net)

While you are right that the beef is with TTB at the federal level of government. You know how it is to try to change federal law as a single party particularly when large CA wineries like Gallo and Kendall Jackson would flight long and hard, tooth and nail, and with deep pockets against you. Andy is simply making the pitch to the consumer to make and informed decision. They need to know what FSITO IS and ISN”T…and, in my book, it ain’t Texas wine, not by a large margin!

Russ

Llano-American-Appellation2

Llano Estacado American Cabernet – Truth in Labeling

 

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