“Big Hat, No Cattle” Sticks to Texas Wine Industry


Finally catching up this morning on a week’s worth of wine news while dusting off a month’s worth of tasting notes deserving highlight mentions here at WineZag, Jessica Meyer’s  Dallas Morning News report on the Texas wine industry plucked my funny bone.  Somehow in the land of big hats, cattle ranches, Halliburton, ExxonMobil, and republican safe zones for ex-presidents and veeps licking their term riddled wounds, lives a vein of appreciation for a developing wine industry.  While I can legitimately stretch my domestic wine focus beyond California and Washington State to secondary wine growing states like New York and Virginia, I harbor a significant (and admittedly untested since I have not tasted through a broad enough portfolio of Texas wine) personal bias against Texas as a “place and culture”  for producing authentic wines for competition on the world stage.

Ms. Meyers comically reconfirmed my suspicions in her report “As Texas Cultivates Wine Industry, Critics Say Focus Should Change” with a quote from Texas Democratic agriculture commissioner candidate Hank Gilbert.  Following some background on the 200+ growing number of wineries, $1.35 billion industry, and new “Go Texan” marketing strategy, she offers this Gilbert criticism of incumbent agriculture commissioner Todd Staples:

I’m all for promoting Texas wine and making it surpass that of California, but we have to get our priorities straight.  We are missing out on millions of dollars worth of revenue in this state from beef….We are intentionally taking the spotlight off the fact that we’re doing a substandard job of marketing Texas products.

He’s all for promoting wine?  I guess I was right and wine is simply not a Texas-style product.  And while Gilbert is still far from incumbency, he must have a deep understanding and connection with all things Texas since he successfully edged out legendary Texan Kinky Friedman in their primary battle.  Ms. Meyer’s shares:

Gilbert made the lack of a Texas label for beef a key issue in his primary campaign against Kinky Friedman. He wants more energy dedicated to creating co-ops that combine all aspects of cattle production.

He accused Staples, a Republican seeking his second term, of diluting the Go Texan program further by focusing on retirement communities and wildlife initiatives rather than Texas goods.

“We are intentionally taking the spotlight off the fact that we’re doing a substandard job of marketing Texas products,” he said.

Reticent to accept this one man’s personally confirming opinion that wine is not really a Texas product,  I scanned the Go Texan Wine web site to see how others feel about Texas and wine.  Predictably, there was a complete section of Texas Wine Industry Quotes:

At least one person, Mr. Staples, strongly supports the cultural and agricultural adoption of wine and grapes by Texas. If I could ever have the chance to weigh in on this Staples vs. Gilbert old style Texas standoff,  Gilbert would get my nod….and chuckles.