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Retailers Say Texas Wines Are Showing Rapid Growth

January 18, 2013

It’s not the first place that comes to mind when one refers to “wine country,” but Texas is the fifth-ranked state by wine production—after California, Washington, New York and Oregon—and retailers say the trend toward local food and wine is helping to galvanize consumer interest. According to the Texas Wine & Grape Growers trade group, the Lone Star State currently has more than 245 bonded wineries, up 50% since 2007, while production rose 35% to 1.35 million cases between 2007-2011.

Texas retail giant Spec’s tells Shanken News Daily that sales of locally-sourced wines are jumping lately. Across Spec’s 100-plus locations—spanning the Houston, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio and El Paso markets—volume of Texas-made wines rose 23% to 27,000 cases in 2012. By value, Spec’s saw Texas-sourced wines crest $3 million in sales on 29% growth last year.

Spec’s Texas wine buyer, Sam Clark, says the chain has made support of the local wine industry a priority. Among the Texas wine labels it carries are six offerings custom-made for the retailer. Those include Muy Grande Texas Tempranillo ($11.49 a 750-ml.), El Pavo Italian Red Blend ($12), 5 Point Cabernet and Chardonnay ($11) and Sweet Spot Red and White ($10 a 1.5-liter). “Sweet wines are huge in Texas,” Clark says. This spring the custom portfolio will be extended with two more wines, made by Texas High Plains producer Llano Estacado and selling for $16 a bottle. Other Texas brands currently seeing strong growth at Spec’s stores include Becker Winery and McPherson Cellars.

Becker and McPherson, along with Sister Creek, are also growing well at Austin chain Twin Liquors, whose Texas wine sales are currently up around 12% year over year. “Texas wines under $10 continue to perform well, but there’s been substantial growth with wines ranging in the $10-$12 area. Those grew by 32% in 2012,” says Twin Liquors president David Jabour.

Chris Potestio, wine and beer business development manager for San Antonio-based Central Market, also sees Texas wines in growth mode. “Each year, the wineries are improving their quality and quality-to-price ratio,” he says, adding that Cabernet and red blends have been leading the way. “We’re seeing more consumers request specific Texas wines.”

Kim McPherson, founder of Lubbock-based McPherson Cellars, says restaurants and fine wine shops in Dallas, Austin and Houston are increasingly receptive to in-state wines. McPherson—which produces a host of wines from Rhône blends and Roussanne to Tempranillo and Albariño to a “bone-dry” Muscat Canelli—currently makes around 10,000 cases a year and is growing at 15%-20% annually. McPherson’s wines have also gained fans outside of Texas, notably in the Maryland-Virginia-Washington, D.C. area. “We have a long way to go,” McPherson says of his state’s wine industry, “but we’re making big strides.”


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