Why is it a good thing to buy a Texas wine over a California or French wine?
The buying local movement has been around for a number of years; people have been encouraging the concept from an economical and environmental standpoint- one reason is not having to pay the cost of transportation [of the wine]. The Texas wine industry has huge benefits for the State; this relatively small industry has a $1.7 billion annual economic impact.
Is it true that 96% of TX wine is consumed by Texans?
There are statistics that say somewhere between 95-98% of wine is sold in Texas. Near as I can tell, this is probably true and the biggest reason for Texas wine being sold in the state has nothing to do with the local movement, it has to do with the fact that there are 24 million people in Texas and it makes a lot more sense to sell it local than ship it out of state.
What can the Texas wine industry do to become more eco-friendly?
One excellent example of what is currently being done is Red Caboose Winery, the first LEED certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) winery in the state. Bending Branch Winery in Comfort, Texas plans to build a LEED certified winery as well.
But, overall the Texas wine industry probably has some constraints right now to widespread conversion to eco-friendly production. We have over 200 wineries, and most are very small. Profitability of small wineries is tough because they are always fighting the economies of scale. A small winery’s material costs for packaging (bottles, labels, corks, etc.) for example is relatively high because they can’t buy in the large quantities that provide significant price discounts. So it’s difficult for a small winery just to compete in the marketplace using standard packaging. They would need completely different packaging equipment to produce bag-in-box or other alternative packaging, further increasing their production costs.
I think Texas vineyards and wineries are as concerned about the environment as any other food industry, but the small size and newness of most wineries is a big enough challenge working with the traditional model. It’s expensive and requires another new learning curve to start looking outside that traditional model. But, those opportunities are there and I expect it will just be a matter of time before more eco-friendly practices becomes commonplace.
Any tips for choosing a good Texas wine?
That’s a loaded question. The High Plains is probably the best region overall, but, that being said there are excellent wines that are being made in other regions as well. I think that when I open a bottle of Texas wine the quality has as much to do with the winemaker as where those grapes are grown.
What is a good book for Texans to read to learn about the Texas wine industry?
The Wine Roads of Texas By Wes Marshall.
Does the Texas wine industry have the potential to compete with say, the California wine?
Absolutely we have the potential! We are pretty new at this game, but we already have wines that have competed with California and done very well. The 2008 Dolcetto from Duchman Family Winery was a double gold medal winner at the San Francisco International Wine Competition last year. At the same competition, a 2008 Tempranillo from Lone Oak Winery in Burleson,Texas received a gold medal. So, it’s already happening, we’re making some really good wine out there and I think for an industry that’s still at a very adolescent stage, this demonstrates the potential that we have is enormous.