Texas’s effort to balance its budget without exploring revenue options or touching rainy day funds creates casualties, from education to health care to the least of our brethren.
For the Texas wine industry, pain may not be tough but terminal.
The Legislative Budget Board recommends eliminating—not trimming—all funds appropriated to Texas Department of Agriculture supporting Texas’s wine and grape industry.
Texas will eliminate $4.3 million for education, research, and marketing. Valuable personnel and experience will be tossed in the compost heap. Personnel will look for work elsewhere in states competing against Texas. Texas Tech and Texas A&M grape research projects will be major victims.
This when Texas is hitting its wine stride. A 2010 study shows the Texas grape and wine industry pours $1.7 billion annually into Texas economy.
Aided by its modest wine investment, Texas is the nation’s fifth largest producer and fourth largest consumer of wine. Texans drink 95 percent of Texas-made wine. Every Texas bottle benefits Texas economy, not foreign countries like France, Australia, Italy, and California.
The pull-out-the-vines approach eliminates critical state-funded research on varietals best suited to the climate and soil conditions of Texas at moment such work ripens on the vine. It eliminates marketing support that harvested national and international recognition of Texas wines.
Tough times make for tough calls, but couldn’t legislators leave at least some of the wine infrastructure in place for when the economy rebounds?
• Llano Estacado Texas Chardonnay. No oak, dash of Viognier; fresh, crisp. $13
• Becker Malbec. Smooth black cherries. $16
• McPherson Cellars Sangiovese and Grenache-Mouvedre: Another case of winery using rising-star Texas grapes. Sangiovese: soft, mellow; $17. Grenache-Mourvedre: Rhone blend, medium-to-light bodied. $16.50
• Messina Hof “Angel” Late Harvest Riesling. Crisp and sweet desert wine. $18
• Brennan Vineyards Viognier. Brennan wins awards with hottest up-and-coming grape in the state. $22