This Texas industry is recognized around the country as a leader and innovator, providing thousands of jobs and adding more than a billion dollars to the state's economy. Yet the Texas Legislature is about to strangle this industry by cutting off its seed money and eliminating the work it does to market and research its product.
If this industry was oil and gas, or even wind (in which Texas leads the country in production), would the Legislature be so eager to eliminate its funding? Of course not. But because the industry is wine, the Legislature is poised to cut its $4.3 million in state funding.
This is a huge mistake, and not just because I write about wine. The Texas wine industry is an important part of the state's economy, and the money it receives from the state has played a key role in the wine industry's growth. In this, Texas wine is not some effete pastime enjoyed by a bunch of outsiders who don't like to drink Lone Star and eat chicken fried, but big business. Or, as we like to say here, Big Bidness.
Texas wine sales increased six percent in 2010, with consumers buying almost 240,000 cases of Texas wine from retailers that Nielsen surveys (which doesn't include Walmart-owned stores or restaurants). That, by the way, compared to a five percent or so increase for all wine sales in the U.S. Even more impressive: Texas wine outsold Argentine and Chilean wine -- combined -- in the state in 2010. The cost of this success? That $4.3 million in seed money, paid every two years. That comes out to less than $6 a Texan, or $3 a year. After the jump, how that $3 a person investment has paid off.