Wines Stuck Deep in the Heart of Texas

The bill working its way toward Lawhood in Texas that would allow Texas wineries to ship direct to Texans is a good thing and will help the state’s winemakers. While my California winery clients can ship wine to Texans, Texas wineries can’t. I know. Go figure.

However, it will do nothing to help Texas wineries sell more wine out of state. For that to happen the Texas Legislature needs to pass a bill that would give Texas’ winemakers some cajones(sp?).

Very little Texas wine leaves the state, either through sale to out of state wholesalers or via direct shipping. It’s not because the wine isn’t good. The wine is very good. I’ve have my fill. The problem is that the Texas wineries have done very little to show the country what they can do.

I had a Texas winery as a client for about three years. It was one of the State’s largest wineries (about 70,000 cases). They had a very talented winemaker trained in California. They were the winery doing the most to research new varietals and new regions for planting. Unfortunately they and their peers were unwilling to do the work necessary to show the rest of the country just how good their wines are.

The truth is that familiarity breeds comfort. Very few members of the wine media outside Texas were familiar with its wines because they’d never tasted them let alone met a Texas winemaker. Very few Texas wines had fallen into the hands of wine lovers outside Texas.
You could tell, when you’d talk to a writer or consumer outside Texas about that State’s wines that the chuckle was waiting somewhere inside their throat just waiting to burst out.

With this new law, Texas wineries will be able to expand their wine clubs and their tasting room sales….to other Texas residents. But it won’t help expand their sales much outside the state. What could they do to remedy that, you ask?

1. Create an association of wineries willing to look at expanding sales outside the state.
2. Hold a group tasting in Chicago, Colorado, California and New York. 
3. The group should send a mixed case of samples, every three months to wine writers
4. Create a Texas Wine Club that delivered different wineries’ wines to members

5. Take their state’s best wines and pull a "Mondavi"…put them in blind tastings against CA and French wines for the media and trade.

I could go on. And if I did, I’d have a list of suggestions that would, if carried out, cost this association of exporting Texas wineries a mere $100,000 a year. Until they decide it’s time to do the work, no more than a handful of non-Texans will ever taste the State’s wines and that chuckle that sits in our throats just waiting to burst forth at the mention of Texas wines will remain locked and loaded.


One Response

  1. Peter Finkelstein - April 4, 2005

    I don’t know. It seems odd that a pr person thinks the problem with Texan wine is that they don’t do good pr!
    I thought it was the show-me state!
    Frankly, I’ve never had a decent wine from the state. Why are you so critical of French winemakers, who you say are being eclipsed by an international market that doesn’t want their wine, but are incapable of seeing that Texan wines are not available nationally because nobody wants them. No one has made anything there that is distinctive and different from a California wannabe.
    The same problem exists on Long Island. The wines sell locally as a point of local pride. But the wines are simply not good enough to go anywhere else. Even if they hired you as their PR agent for the region.
    Of course, this doesn’t explain who it is that the miserable stuff being churned out of California is able to sell. Maybe you’re right, after all, about the dominance of PR.
    Might make for a good movie.

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