New Texas AVA Petition “HICKORY SANDS” Deemed “Perfected” Paving the Way for First New Texas AVA since early 2000s

April 15, 2023 admin grape growingGreat Places & PeopleLocal wineTexas AVAsTexas HIll CountryTexas Hill Country WineriesTXwineVineyardsWine Business NewsWine labelingWine Trends

Establishing the Hickory Sands AVA would support the growth of the Texas wine industry by highlighting the quality and distinctiveness of wines produced in this area.

Parr VineyardsRobert Clay Vineyards, and Tallent Vineyards, three of the leading Estate Vineyards in Texas, have received exciting news from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) regarding their petition for the Hickory Sands American Viticultural Area (AVA). The TTB has completed its initial review of the petition and determined that it is “perfected”, meeting all regulatory requirements for AVA petitions.

Tallent Vineyards in Proposed Hickory Sands AVA – Malbec Babies in 2018

What does “Perfected” Mean?

A petition for a new AVA is perfected when it has been found to contain all of the evidence meeting the requirements of the United States government TTB regulations and containing sufficient supporting information for TTB to decide to proceed with rulemaking to establish a new AVA or change an existing AVA.

Hickory Sands AVA outlined in red on map

Where is the New Proposed Hickory Sands AVA?

The Hickory Sands AVA is located in the central part of Mason County, Texas, within the existing boundaries of the Texas Hill Country AVA and almost entirely within another proposed Hill Country AVA – Llano Uplift. The proposed AVA contains nine commercial vineyards, nine bonded wineries, and 190.1 acres of vineyards.

NOTE: In Figure: Hickory Sands Proposed AVA (in red), Llano Uplift (proposed) and Texas Hill Country AVA. Also outlined in black, but not labeled are two other Hill Country Sub-AVAs: Fredericksburg in the Texas Hill Country AVA and the very small Bell Mountain AVA.

The Hickory Sands AVA is named after the Hickory Sandstone formation, which is a series of sandy soils that are found throughout the area and are known for their well-drained and low nutrient content, leading to grapes with more concentrated flavors and aromas. This area is characterized by hot, dry summers and mild winters, making it ideal for growing a wide variety of grape varieties, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Viognier, Mediterranean and Iberian varieties like Tempranillo and Touriga Nacional, and even highly awarded Chardonnay.

Now that the TTB has accepted the AVA petition as “perfected” the process going forward will involve a period of public comment and review, during which time interested parties will have the opportunity to provide input on the proposed AVA.

The designation of the Hickory Sands AVA will provide a valuable tool for winemakers and grape growers in the area to build consumer awareness and identification in the marketplace. This will allow them to label their wines with the AVA name and promote the unique characteristics of the area. It will also provide consumers with a greater understanding of the origin and quality of the wines they purchase made from grapes produced in vineyards in the Hickory Sands.

Tesha Parr Solomon

Tesha Parr Solomon, who submitted the petition, said, “We are thrilled that the TTB has accepted our petition for the Hickory Sands AVA. We believe that the area’s unique characteristics make it a prime location for grape growing and wine production.”

“We are proud to be a part of this historic moment for the Texas wine industry. The establishment of the Hickory Sands AVA will not only recognize the unique characteristics of our region, but it will also showcase the quality of the wines produced here. We look forward to the next steps in the rulemaking process and seeing this designation become a reality,” said Drew Tallent, owner of Tallent Vineyards.

William R. Parr, the founder of Parr Vineyards, said, “Establishing the Hickory Sands AVA would support the growth of the Texas wine industry by highlighting the quality and distinctiveness of wines produced in this area.”

Dan McLaughlin

Dan McLaughlin, the grower and winemaker at Robert Clay Vineyards, said, “This is an exciting development for our winery and the Texas wine industry as a whole. We look forward to working with the TTB and other stakeholders to move the Hickory Sands AVA petition through the rulemaking process.”

For a copy of the petition and maps of the AVA for the Hickory Sands AVA, please visit https://robertclayvines.maps.arcgis.com.

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