House Bill aims to change wine labeling in Texas

House Bill aims to change wine labeling in Texas

SAINT JO, TX (KAUZ) - A house bill could shake things up for the Texas wine industry.

HB 1514 aims to change the way Texas wine bottles are labeled.

Patrick Whitehead, managing partner at Blue Ostrich Winery and Vineyard in Saint Jo has been growing grapes and bottling wine since 2011.

"We have eight acres of grapes. We grow several different varietals. Harvest time, or crush as we call it here in north Texas, normally falls around August or September," he said.

On occasion they use grapes from other states, mostly California and New Mexico, to enhance a wine style or extend wine they have.

"The ATF law states that as long as 75-percent of the wine of that bottle comes from the state that's printed on that bottle, we can label it with the state on the bottle," Whitehead said.

But House Bill 1514 wants to change that standard to 100-percent in the state of Texas.

"We don't grow nearly as many grapes in the state of Texas as California or Oregon. Those are the only two states in the country that have a law stating that if it says California or Oregon on the label it has to be 100-percent," he said.

It is a move that Whitehead, along with the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association, are against.

"You can take a wine like our Blanc De Bois, which is 85-percent Texas fruit, but we use a 15-percent blend of Riesling, which is difficult to source in Texas. We get it from New Mexico and blend it in. We still call it Texas. That wine was crafted in Texas, and we believe it is a great Texas product. We would have to label that wine differently if such a law were to go into effect," he said.

Whitehead said as a grape grower, in a state where unpredictable weather can ruin grape crops, if it is not broken, there is nothing to fix.

"Just because a winemaker may blend in a small amount from out-of-state to improve or enhance that blend, I don't think that necessarily makes it any less Texas," Whitehead said.

If passed, this law would go into effect on September 1st.

For more on HB 1514 click here.

Samantha Forester, Newschannel 6

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