Write Off the Vine: Texas Wine News – April 24, 2009
Want to get more of your favorite Texas wines into Restaurants…..Austin legislators may be on your side (see below):
Wine Bill Slips Onto Texas Senate Agenda
A bill that’s headed to the state Senate would let Texans take their own bottles of wine into liquor-carrying restaurants and then leave with whatever they don’t drink. (See: Proposed Texas Senate Bill at: http://www.legis.state.tx.us/tlodocs/81R/billtext/pdf/SB02523I.pdf)
Industry representatives have dubbed the measure the “Dewhurst Bill.” Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst is a known wine connoisseur.
Glen Garey with the Texas Restaurant Association says Dewhurst has been frustrated because he couldn’t order his preferred bottle when dining out in Austin.
Garey said Dewhurst, who presides over the Senate, was instrumental in getting the legislation moving.
Dewhurst’s spokesman Rich Parsons says his boss earlier this year spoke with the association, but Parsons denied that the lieutenant governor wanted it passed so that he could carry his own wine into restaurants.
Parsons says the association “dropped the ball” by not finding a sponsor to file the legislation before last week.
Sharp to Dewhurst: Try Texas wines
Following up on an Associated Press report that Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, a known wine connoisseur, is pushing a bill that would allow him to bring his favorite wine into restaurants, former Comptroller John Sharp today suggested Dewhurst might want to try Texas.
In a one-page, handwritten letter, Sharp prodded Dewhurst a bit. They ran against each for other in 2002, and have never been close.
“I couldn’t help but notice that you’re having trouble getting any decent wine for supper, and you’re having to pass a law just to get a drink,” Sharp said in his note. “it occurred to me that Texas (the state you’re lt. governor of) had some great wines that maybe you didn’t know about.”
Choose a Texas wine “and you don’t have to pass a law (and) you can help out Texas wineries,” Sharp chided.
Link to Sharp’s letter:
Names: Messina Hof Winery, Fall Creek Vineyards and Llano Estacado Winery
And the Story Continues…..
Wine Bill Slips onto Senate Agenda with Help
As Republican leader of the state Senate, Dewhurst is one of the most powerful leaders in Texas government. He sets the agenda in the chamber, controls the assignments senators get and generally decides where bills get sent. In this case, the wine bill — authored by Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands — was not sent through the typical process.
It was introduced so late in the session that the Senate had to agree to allow it to be filed a week ago. Then, instead of being sent to the panel that usually handles liquor issues, it was referred to the Senate Administration Committee, which is set up to deal with internal chamber policy and non-controversial legislation.
The panel passed the bill unanimously, without any testimony, after 8 p.m. on April 20, officials said. It took about three minutes, according to Texas Legislative Service, a bill tracking service. On Wednesday, it was recommended for fast-track Senate approval using a process usually reserved for limited-impact or non-controversial bills, legislative records show.
Williams, author of the bill and chairman of the committee that approved it, declined comment on the legislation. Parsons, the Dewhurst aide, could not say why it went to that panel.
“That’s where it was referred,” he said.
Sen. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio, who serves on the Administration Committee, said he never expected a bill with such major statewide implications to make a sudden appearance on the panel’s agenda and then to be approved so quickly.
“I was surprised there wasn’t any testimony one way or the other,” Uresti said. “It’s unusual … I was caught off guard.”
The legislation would allow Texans to take bottles of wine to establishments that have mixed beverage permits, allowing them to sell beer, wine and distilled spirits. Most upscale restaurants have such licenses.
Stay tuned as the drama continues….