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Texas Proposes to Change State Wine Law Regarding Appellations of Origin

Recently, the state of Texas saw some interesting action with respect to wine and the law. House Bill 1514, sponsored by Rep. Jason Isaac, relating to the labeling of wine as originating from the state is causing a significant amount of concern among winemakers. The bill proposes to change the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code with respect to wines using a Texas appellation of origin. Specifically, House Bill 1514 requires such wines to be made from 100% of grapes, fermented juice, or other fruit grown in the state and for the wine to be fully produced and finished in Texas.

The bill proposes to add the following language to the Code:

Sec. 101.672. USE OF TEXAS APPELLATION OF ORIGIN. A wine is entitled to an appellation of origin indicating the wine’s origin is this state or a geographical subdivision of this state only if:

(1) 100 percent of the wine’s volume is derived from fermented juice of grapes or other fruit grown in this state; and
(2) the wine is fully produced and finished in this state.

See 85(R) HB 1514.

The proposed bill is similar to requirements that several other states, such as California, have enacted with respect to wines using state or county appellations or origins or American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) within the state.

Texas winemakers opposed to the bill argue that the state’s grape industry is has not yet established it can support this type of demand and yield, year after year, in order to supply the state’s winemakers with state-grown grapes. This is especially true when the weather or climate is not conducive to a prosperous grape industry.

Those in support of the bill argue that the proposed changes will lead to greater transparency for the Texas wine industry and serve as further support that Texas is a serious wine producing region. The “truth in labeling” movement has been embraced by several state, especially with respect to farm or micro winery permits (which often require permittees to source grapes grown in the permittee’s respective state).

Irrespective of whether or not the Texas law may change, this is a great testament of how state wine label requirements can vary from federal. Federal wine label regulations mandate that, when a wine is labeled with an appellation of origin, at least 75% of the wine is derived from fruit or agricultural products grown in the appellation area indicated on the label. 27 CFR 4.25(b)(1)(i). The percentage increases to 85% when an AVA is used on the label. 27 CFR 4.25(e)(3)(i). There are several states, such as California, Washington, and Oregon, that have slightly different or more restrictive requirements with respect to appellations of origin.

For more information on wine or alcohol law, permits, or TTB regulations, please contact Lindsey Zahn.

DISCLAIMER: This blog post is for general information purposes only, is not intended to constitute legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship results. Please consult your own attorney for legal advice.

Lindsey A. Zahn

About 

Lindsey is the founder and author of On Reserve: A Wine Law Blog. She is an alcohol beverage and food attorney and is admitted to the New York State Bar.

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