AUSTIN, Texas - When taking a Texas wine country excursion, it can be difficult to know how much Texas is actually poured into every wine glass. It’s a question Carl Money has tried to answer for several years.
"I am of the belief they are pulling the wool over the consumer’s eye," said Money.
Money who owns Ponotoc Vineyards and Weingarten is the past president of the Texas Wine Growers Association. He uses his locally grown grapes in his wines. The organization played a big role in requiring "truth in labeling."
"The consumer will know that at least all of the grapes are from Texas, previously you didn’t have that," said Money.
There are about 700 winery permits Issued by the state. In a recent industry survey only about 100 permit holders, who responded, said they make wine that’s 100% from Texas fruit. That can be a surprise for wine tasters like Elisa Mahone.
"If we came across something that wasn’t a Texas wine, I think it would be disappointing because I really want to see what the state can offer," said Mahone.
- County: A county-specific label requires the use of 75% local grapes with 25% coming from other parts of Texas
- AVA: Special growing zones known as AVA’s must have a mixture of 85% that’s locally grown
- Vineyard: If a vineyard wants its own label, 95% of the grapes must come from its vine
- Texas: This less restrictive label requires only 75% of the grapes to be from Texas. The remaining portion can come from another state.
The ability to use different grapes from different places got the bill passed, a deal that Money admits is a little hard to swallow. "I’ve always thought that, should be 100% Texas fruit, I still do but this is a compromise and that’s what happens in the legislature so it’s fine, it’s a step forward," said Money.
The blending option provides protection if crops are damaged by bad weather. It also helps some producers with vines that have not yet matured, so juice has to be shipped in to make the wine.
"Yeah it was a big moment for the industry," said Roxanne Myers, who owns a North Texas vineyard and is president of the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association. Myers said using grapes from different places has been more about a limited supply as there’s simply wasn’t enough grapes being grown.
"But what we were really trying to do, not pull the wool over everybody’s eyes, rather highlight all the nuances that come in a bottle of Texas wine," said Myers.
The compromise bill, according to Myers, will also give Texas wines a firm footing on the global stage. "We are maturing as an industry, we are maturing with this piece of legislation and I think, it’s aging in a bottle," said Myers.
The new labeling law takes effect in September.