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: firstname.lastname@example.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!
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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