What These Wineries Are Doing To Enhance Meaning of AVA Designation

A non-profit advocacy group comprised of Texas’s leading wineries has been pushing for stricter labeling requirements and hopes this will be the year their efforts are rewarded during the state’s legislative session. 

Texas Wine Growers believes that for the state’s wine reputation to improve, wineries must use grapes that are 100% grown in the state in order to use a Texas AVA County or Vineyard designation on a wine label.

California, Oregon, Washington and New York each hold state-level labeling standards in wine-origin protection. 

“The really exciting thing about this bill is that if it passes, consumers will be guaranteed that any Texas wine labeled with an AVA, County or Vineyard is 100% Texas-grown,” said TWG Founding Member Andrew Sides, who owns Lost Draw Cellars. “That’s a great victory for the Texas wine industry, and it will allow us to continue growing and reach our full potential as a premier wine growing region in the US.”

The state holds a legislative session every two years, and for the third consecutive legislative session, the state’s house of representatives will take up a bill designed to add meaning to a Texas AVA designation. House Bill 1957 filed by State Rep. John Kuempel (and companion Senate Bill 1402 filed by State Senator Dawn Buckingham) was filed last week in Austin.

TWG sought similar legislation that met defeat in 2017 and 2019, but TWG members are optimistic about this session’s attempt, which would not impact wine derived from grapes harvested until 2022. 

The Texas Wine Growers, which includes Calais Winery, Hawk’s Shadow Winery, Lewis Wines, Lost Draw Cellars, Perissos Vineyard & Winery, Pontotoc Vineyard, Westcave Cellars, and William Chris Vineyards, was formed in 2017.

“We’ve been working for a long time with industry leaders across the state to get here — many with differing viewpoints. As such, we’re calling this the ‘Grape Compromise,’ ” said TWG President Chris Brundrett, William Chris Wines owner. “This bill is being introduced because we all agree that Texas will benefit from stronger standards surrounding the appellation of Texas wines — this legislation will strengthen the image and value of Texas as a winemaking region, and passing this bill will allow consumers and wine industry professionals to support Texas wine with increased confidence. 

“What’s more, it will lead to an increase in Texas-grown grape sales in the state, which is a win for Texas farmers.” 

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