And with a solid alternative, albeit not without challenges and a long road, we believe it’s an unnecessary risk to take.
So what would we do? How would we proceed? Because we do agree “you have to start somewhere”. This is more than just Truth in Labeling. as the production requirement makes clear. So, if this is truly about Origin, and Texas wine growers, and Texas wine quality, as well as Truth in Labeling — which we believe it is — then we would advise a different way to approach. One rooted in wine history, culture, and practice around the world, and also with the potential to be practiced more effectively here in Texas.
For our part, we would prefer, and would work with all parties, to create a self-governing body firmly rooted within the control of a united Texas Wine Industry, a group that drives Appellation-designated labeling requirements supporting 100% Texas Grapes, and 100% Appellation grapes, over time. And we would advocate continued sub-appellation development, leveraging the original Hill Country AVA work of Texas Wine pioneers like the Aulers of Fall Creek Winery. Overlay that with the pride of Real Texas Wine stewards like William Chris Vineyards, the historic retail connections of Becker and Messina Hof, the strong customer reach of Grape Creek, the meticulous small batch production of Calais Winery and Lewis Wines. The family vineyard and winery businesses of the McPhersons, Timmons, Newsoms, and Binghams…. And the many new 100% Texas Wine producers and out-of-state investors arriving every month. Like us, all are grateful for those who came before, and are delighted to make great Texas wine and grow a business to serve a multitude of happy customers. Think about that for a second, and all the sacrifices, investments and accomplishments sourced from these groups for the Texas Wine Industry. Sounds like a pretty great team!
In our discussions with generational families, growers, and wine loving experts in California, Washington, Oregon, France, and Spain, this is how the best wine growing regions emerge… not by defined decree at the national or state level, but through meticulous work at the AVA level. Yes, we stipulate that their wines are 100% National or State origin. But that’s incidental to what is happening locally. Just what is it that gives these AVA’s market power, collectibility, premium retail presence, and a clear place in the hearts of wine lovers? What is it that imbues these wines with Terroir? It is the authentic sense of a specific place. One that is classified and protected by the industry within the AOC systems in place around the wine world. Terroir is not designated by a political boundary, which by definition every country, every state is. There is no French Terroir, no Spanish Terroir, no California Terroir. Terroir exists at the micro level — appellation, region, commune, vineyard, estate, and block. The more narrow the definition, the greater the expression of the site by the wine. In France, if you took grapes from Bordeaux and from Burgundy to blend the two greatest appellations into a single “100% French” wine, you would have a national and cultural disaster. Because everyone associates the Appellation with great wine, Terroir-driven wine, a wine of specific authenticity, wines worthy of pursuing, collecting and supporting a premium.
This can easily be corroborated on www.CellarTracker.com. Search for yourself - have a look at the many thousands of Pinot Noir wines listed by wine lovers from Oregon, to take one often-used example to support the premise of desirability of 100% state-appellation wines. What do we find? Less than 5% of the Oregon Pinot wines tracked by Cellar Tracker are designated at the state level for appellation. The other 95%? They are designated by specific AVAs within the state — regions, communes and estates. Look at the pricing, the ratings, the collections —- it’s quite clear on the matter. This is true, again and again, for AVA-specific wines vs state or nationally appellated wines. If you want Terroir, if you want expression, if you want the name to mean something to the wine-loving, critically driven world of collectors, critics and retailers, then you must pursue quality and Terroir at an authentically specific level - estate, vineyard, commune - or the appellation level at a minimum, and build up from there. We should not conflate a concept like Terroir , apply it to anything that grows from Amarillo to Laredo for the sake of Labeling, and expect the market to recognize us as a superior wine region. Now when we talk about say, Sagmore vineyard, or Hye Texas, or Round Mountain, the Salt Lick Vineyard, or Mason, or even a region as large as the High Plains, we begin to get a more clearly defined, specific indicator of true Texas wine quality and authenticity. Let the 100% Texas Grape origin labeling solutions flow from that level and radiate up and out. They will gain strength and be replicated elsewhere.
Texans always think big. It’s our birthright. We are bigger than Spain. And bigger than France. (ironically, the first two of the Six Flags that have flown over the Lone Star State). In terms of vineyards? Well, Texas has less than 10,000 acres under vine. (France has 2.3M acres, Spain, 2.9M acres under vine). In this case, we cheerfully advise eating the elephant in the room one bite at a time. So, let’s start from a specific point of origin to tighten Labeling, bolster 100% Texas Fruit, and improve #TxWine quality. And, importantly, embrace another goal of equal importance — let bygones be bygones, presume positive intent in our dealings, and unify the industry. Then let’s see how the market, wineries and growers respond. That way, we can build on a solid foundation of mutual support rather than imposed law. Row by row, we will create an authenticated, Terroir-driven vineyard map of Texas that will rival any you care to name. When we do that, our future will be as big as the Lone Star State which we all call home.
That was probably more than you wanted to read — thank you for the honor of holding your attention for this long. We’ve thought about this for a very long time. And there is so much more that can be said. But that’s for another post. Our view regarding 100% Texas Wine is clear, and we state it on every bottle. No Stickers, no Legislation needed. We will continue to produce amazing Texas Wine. And we are grateful if you count us as a friend of every Texas Winery and Grape Grower, no matter what your position is. You have our Word.
Have a wonderful Spring and come taste with us at Siboney Cellars and Hawk’s Shadow Winery in Dripping Springs. Barbara’s wine portfolio is about to bloom and you definitely want to be a part of that.
Miguel and Barbara Lecuona