Consumers In Favor of Changing the GO TEXAN Mark to Texas Grown Grapes

By on February 4, 2014 Texas Wine News

Andrew Chalk, Senior Writer, Texas Wine and Trail February 04, 2014

The public comment period on a rule change that I proposed to the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) – that a wine carrying the ‘Go Texan’ mark be required to be made only from Texas grown grapes – ended in December. We are now in a second public comment period that ends on February 10th. In the meantime, I have obtained the submissions of the first public comment period and analyzed them. The results are interesting…

69 comments were received by the TDA;

I divided the results into five categories –
1. Those favoring a minimum of 0% Texas grapes in Go Texan wine (the current rule)

2. Those favoring a minimum of 50% Texas grapes in Go Texan wine;

3. Those favoring a minimum of 75% Texas grapes in Go Texan wine;

4. Those favoring a minimum of 100% Texas grapes in Go Texan wine;

5. Those not expressing an unambiguous view about the percentage or not identifying their category (consumer, winery, etc.). Not all responses came down to expressing a percentage (one person even went to the trouble of sending an ad hominem attack on me to the TDA – how thoughtful). 10 responses fell in this category, leaving us with a final sample of 59.
The grid below shows the number and percentages of respondents in each category that expressed an opinion on the minimum grape percentage in a Go Texan wine.

0% RULE

50% RULE

75% RULE

100% RULE

TOTAL

CONSUMERS

1 (5%)

2 (10%)

1 (5%)

16 (80%)

20

POLITICIANS

3 (100%)

3

VINE GROWERS

1 (25%)

3 (75%)

4

WINERIES

19 (59.38%)

1 (3.13%)

5 (15.63%)

7 (21.88%)

32

TOTAL

24

3

6

26

59

The most striking numbers are:

  • 80% of consumers favor the 100% rule and only 1 consumer (the one who wrote the touching personal attack) opposed it.

  • All Texas grape growers responding favored the 100% rule or a 75% rule;

  • The proportion of Texas wineries favoring the 0% rule is only 59.38%. In other words, four tenths of Texas wineries themselves believe that the 0% rule is bad for them (undermines the credibility of the Go Texan program, discourages Texas wineries and grape growers, etc.). I find these proportions encouraging.

In fact, many of the wineries that supported the existing 0% rule seemed to do so because they misunderstood the change.

  • The 100% rule would not come into effect overnight. I envisage that it would be phased in. For example, 75% Texas fruit for wines introduced into commerce after January 1st, 2016; 100% Texas fruit for wines introduced into commerce after January 1st, 2018. That way, the planting can start now.

  • The 100% rule would apply to each wine. So Go Texan could be used on a wine label if that wine met the 100% Texas grapes criterion. Other wines in the wineries lineup could be less than 100% Texas fruit without affecting this.

Several wineries made a strong case for a 75% rule. This, they pointed out, would be consistent with Federal labeling standards and would be enforced by TTB tax inspections. I agree that 75% would be better than the current rule in that it would prevent the bulk juice mixers from using the Go Texan to sell out-of-state bulk wine. However, it would remove the other purpose of the 100% rule — providing a uniform method for producers to show consumers on their front labels that their wine was made from 100% Texas fruit.

Finally, the arcane word of rule making is interesting. It is clear from some of the winery responses that this is usually a discussion solely between competing producer interests. Witness to this was that four of the wineries spoke in their comments about the notion of the consumer, of all people, having a say as a kind of gross impertinence. “Have they ever made wine?” All they do is drink it.

Spot the Contradiction

Taken directly from the GO TEXAN website: “All of TDA’s GO TEXAN promotional materials, print advertisements and media campaigns promote the program’s awareness and remind buyers that when they want to experience what Texas has to offer they should look for the GO TEXAN mark. Using the GO TEXAN mark on your own company’s labels, brochures, website and other marketing materials puts the power of the state’s strongest agricultural marketing campaign to work for you.” Read directly from the website here >

Regarding the new TDA comment period: If you have already submitted a comment, you do not need to resubmit it – it will be considered in the final evaluation. If you wish to submit a comment, or an additional comment, send it by e-mail to gotexan@TexasAgriculture.gov or via mail to to  Mr. Bryan Daniel, Chief Administrator for Trade and Business Development, Texas Department of Agriculture, P.O. Box 12847, Austin, Texas 78711.

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