Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A PLEA FROM THE TEXAS WINE INDUSTRY


Wine words

Russ Kane, in his great Vintage Texas Blog, has issued a plea to the government of the Lone Star State - "Don't forget about the Texas wine industry!"

Kane recounts how Texas Governor Rick Perry made a little wager with Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell on the outcome of the NCAA women's basketball championship game.  McDonnell is a Notre Dame graduate, and Perry was backing the ladies from Texas A&M University.

Perry wagered a case of Texas wine - Viognier from Becker Vineyards - against a mixed case from Virginia's Barboursville Vineyards.

Kane points out that Governor Perry's current budget proposal calls for slashes to funding for the Texas wine industry.  An investment of just over two million dollars, says Kane, has helped turn Texas wine into a $1.7 billion cash cow for the state.  Kane - and many others - don't want to see that growth stopped in its tracks.

The article states that this funding is not a subsidy.  The funds for research, marketing and education is money that is generated by the taxes on wine sales in Texas.  Quoting Kane,
"The influx of dollars to the industry have helped to (1) identify the grape varieties best suited for the Texas soils and weather, (2) devise methods to handle vineyard diseases particular to Texas like Pierce’s Disease and Cotton Root Rot and (3) helped to investigate improved wine making techniques for the grapes that can grow in Texas.  Most importantly, these funds have also gone to developing programs that are educating the vineyard and winery personnel critical to the new agricultural jobs in Texas."

The upshot is, according to Kane, that the Texas legislature is trying to save 2 million dollars a year by cutting the legs out from under a business that generated $78.5 million dollars in tax revenue for the state in 2009.  That doesn't sound like good business to Kane, and it shouldn't sound like good business to anyone else.