New state legislation could change the way Texans enjoy and make wine

New state legislation could change the way Texans enjoy and make wine (Photo by Kendra Hall ABC7).

There is a state House bill that could affect wine drinkers in Texas. If it is passed, House Bill 1514 could change the amount of wine that is produced with "Texas" in its name.

Right now, Texas law says to be considered a Texas wine, it must be made from 75% Texas-grown fruit. This bill could change the requirement to 100%.

"With how many acres we have vs. how many wineries we now have that needed to be phased in over at least a 10 year period," said Monty Dixon, owner of Bar Z, winery in the Texas Panhandle.

Dixon says there is a total of 4,500 acres for grapes to grow in Texas, compared to more than 600,000 acres in California.

"There's only a certain number of acres out there that allows grape growers to be able to grow grapes in Texas so it would make it very, very difficult for wineries to be able to get enough grapes in Texas to put Texas on their label," said Debbie Reynolds, Executive Director for the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association.

She says the association voted to not support the bill. She says if wine makers could no longer put Texas on their bottle without using 100% of grapes grown in the state, there would be no encouragement to buy any Texas grapes. Reynolds says it will hurt the entire industry.

"It has created a division in our industry and we've always been real proud of the fact that there isn't a lot of competitiveness," said Dixon. "There's a lot of camaraderie in our industry."

Bar Z currently uses 100% Texas-grown grapes, so Dixon says it would not affect how he does business, but it could affect other wines Texans might be used to drinking.

"These people need to be able to buy some grapes to keep making the wine that they have to make to pay their bills," said Dixon.

Wine makers using only 75% Texas-grown fruit with either have to change their labels or change their product if this bill passes.

Right now the bill is still sitting in Committee.

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