Lawmakers Hear Testimony on Bill to Abolish ‘Texa-fornian Wine'

AUSTIN — Vineyards in Texas could soon be required to make sure 100 percent of their grapes are from Texas, which producers say could increase costs. Currently, wines produced in the Lone Star State can be labeled "Texan" as long as 75 percent of the grapes used are from Texas.“It is a truth-in-labeling bill designed to ensure Texas-made products are truly Texan," the bill's author, Rep. Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs, said during the House Committee on Licensing and Administrative Procedures' hearing Monday night. "Texas has emerged as a major wine-producing state, and this measure will preserve the integrity of the state."The committee substitute of Isaac's House Bill 1514 gives vineyards five years to convert their wine production to be state-grown grapes. It includes exceptions for vineyards if an environmental crisis decimates the grape crops."It is a shame that this issue was brought forward without understanding the ramifications to the industry and to customers," said Paul Bonarrigo, founder of the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association. Bonarrigo testified that many vineyards target 100 percent production from Texas grapes, but environmental factors can cause producers to supplement their wine with grapes from cheaper sources like California. Certain types of wine like Chardonnay and Cabernet are especially hard to grow in Texas climates."One year we lost 30 percent of our Riesling grapes," said Bonarrigo, who had to use California grapes to complete his wine production.California, New York and Oregon have laws in place that require wine grapes to be 100 percent state-grown, while Washington state requires 95 percent of its grapes to be locally grown.   Continue reading...

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