in Houston, Texas
State of Texas may drop taxpayer support for wineries, which totaled $4.3 million in last two years
Monday, Mar 21, 2011, 02:01PM CST
By Mark Lisheron

Tough economic times may force our state government to abandon one of its core missions -- winemaking.

After years and millions of dollars in taxpayer support nurturing it like a grafted shoot from a chateau in Saint-Emilion, legislators are considering shutting the spigot on a wine industry that has grown to have a $1.7 billion economic impact on Texas, according to a story in the Dallas Morning News.

Taxpayers assisted this industry in its wine and grape development with $4.3 million in 2009-10, the story says.

Needless to say, the people involved in the industry are unhappy with the prospect of losing these tax dollars, although the story doesn’t say how crucial the funding is to businesses that paid $78.5 million in state and local taxes in 2009, double what it paid in 2005, the first year taxpayers were allowed to assist in growing their business.

They shouldn’t squawk too much. The Legislature has been positively lavish with tax dollars in comparison to the much smaller craft brewing industry. Small breweries have for years been unable to get the Legislature to consider, let alone pass, a bill that would allow people taking a brewery tour to take home a six-pack or some other small amount.

State Rep. Jessica Farrar, D-Houston, has proposed the bill again this session. Proponents say the change would be good for beer tourism. It would cost taxpayers nothing.

Beer, however, is apparently not a core mission of the state. The Legislature eight years ago changed the law to allow people to take home a bottle or wine or two after a winery tour. Proponents said it would be good for wine tourism.
Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or

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Photo of glass of wine by flickr user dhammza / off, used via a Creative Commons license.
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