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collected each year, amounting to nearly

US$92 million at last count.

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The industry

contributes more than US$1.35 billion annu­

ally to the state’s economy and has an

annual payroll of almost US$300 million in

direct wages.

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Production:

A critical issue facing the Texas

wine industry is a shortage of grapes. As the

number of wineries in the state has grown,

the acreage devoted to growing grapes has

not kept pace with the demand.

Texas has gone from 110 wineries in 2005 to

200 wineries in 2014, yet still utilises the

same 1,700 ha of grapes. This shortage

makes it difficult and expensive to make

quality Texas wines at a price point compa­

rable to other wines in the marketplace and

to have a consistent brand to market from

year to year.

There are not enough existing grapes in

Texas to supplement the needs of newer

wineries as most of the existing grape grow­

ers already have on-going contracts with

established wineries. Texas wines are no

longer only from Texas. This may be fine for

the bulk merchandise market, but the con­

sumer who loves wines and researches them

wants the real Texas thing.

The real thing has a lot to do with the terroir.

Most Texas wineries take pride in sourcing

grapes from Texas vineyards. Grapes grown

in Texas soil have a special taste that comes

only from a sense of place. If the wine is

made from grapes from another state, there

is no Texas terroir in the bottle and these

wines must be labelled “For Sale in Texas

Only” indicating that some portion, or all, of

the grapes came from out of state.

The need for more grape production is des­

perately needed in Texas to keep up with

the demand. Texas wineries have been

forced to look to other grape-producing

areas to find enough raw grapes to produce

the volumes of wine required. In recent

years California vineyards have provided

most of the extra grapes needed by Texas

wineries to meet production schedules. Yet,

with a historic drought in progress and the

resulting critical state of the California grape

industry, Texas wine officials are scrambling

to discover additional sources of grapes

from other states and regions. The ultimate

answer to the problems is to increase grape

acres across Texas. While the number of

acres dedicated to viticulture in the state are

increasing, demand still outpaces supply

and state officials say more vineyards are

needed—sooner than later.

While producing grapes in Texas pales com­

pared to high-production and widely grown

commercial crops like cotton, corn, wheat

and sorghum, which dominate the state’s

agricultural landscape, viticulture does rep­

resent a growing niche market that many

first-time farmers have discovered in recent

years. Producers of Texas grapes and

wines, many of them new farming families,

are taking advantage of an expanding mar­

ket for Texas wine products. Growing

grapes not only satisfies the need to get a

hands-on farming experience by planting,

growing and harvesting the fruits of the vine,

but also providing the farmer with a chance

to process grapes and turn them into a

regional wine that can be distributed to

wholesalers and retailers.