Vineyard & Winery Management

March/April 2013

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Texas Wine Industry Faces Future Without State Funding New program seeks private support for vintners and growers BY JEFF he minute Rick Naber heard that the Texas Legislature needed to close a massive budget deficit, he feared the worst – that the scalpel would target the approximately $2 million a year the state budgeted to support the Texas wine industry. And he was right. "They pulled the legs right out from under us," said Naber, who owns Flat Creek Estate in the Texas Hill Country. "When we lost that money, they set us back 15 years. We lost all the momentum that we had built up over the past couple of years." The state of Texas, facing a $27 billion, two-year budget deficit in 2011, eliminated the $4.3 million it spent on grape research, extension services and wine marketing, most of which was administered SIEGEL through the state department of agriculture. This seed money had helped the industry grow from 60 wineries in 2000 to some 250 today, and to become the nation's fifthlargest producer by volume. The loss of state funding led to the decision to find private money, t h r o u g h t h e Te x a s Wine and Grape Foundation (TWGF), to replace it. Scheduled to start in the spring + The Texas wine industry lost $4.3 of 2013, the ambitious million in state funding in 2011. program will focus + The state's wineries saw a signififirst on restarting the cant drop in visitor traffic after the marketing programs cuts, and reduced retail and resthat ended in August taurant placements. 2011. Then, a year or + Industry leaders will restore proso later, the foundagrams through the privately funded tion hopes to have Texas Wine and Grape Foundation. enough money to help replace some of the + This funding model may be the research funding. future for other regional wine AT A GLANCE industries. 82 V I N E YARD & WINERY MANAGEMENT | Mar - Apr 2013 w w w. v w m m e d i a . c o m

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