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Carl Hudson
September 13, 2022 | Carl Hudson

Updated Label Laws to Designate 100% Texas Wines

Texas Wine Collective – Carl’s Corner

Updated Label Laws to Designate 100% Texas Wines

(#9 of 10 in a Series on American Viticultural Areas:  Texas AVAs – What and Why?)


Since the beginning of the modern Texas Wine Industry, let’s say the mid-1970’s, there have been questions about how to officially designate that a wine sold by a Texas winery was produced from grapes grown in the Lone Star State - or as some folks like to say, a REAL TEXAS WINE. Various categories of definitions and designations are described below, including some recent legislation that narrows the scope and better defines what can be classified a REAL TEXAS WINE.

Federal regulations have always allowed wines to be produced in one state from grapes grown in another state, and this has benefitted many wineries as they go through a start-up phase or try to recover from severe weather issues. The phrase “For Sale in This State Only” is the specific designation usually shown on the back label. An additional point of this federal labeling standard is meant to prevent juice or grapes (or even bulk wine) from state #1 (say CA) being sold to and made into wine or bottled and labeled at a winery in a different state #2 (say TX), and then being shipped back and sold in state #1. Even though legal and informative, if this designation is used by a well-known Texas winery, there can be consumer confusion in appreciating that the grapes or wine did not come from Texas. This FSITO (For Sale In Texas Only) has long been a thorny issue argued among Texas growers and winemakers, large and small.

When terrible weather occurs, such as with spring frosts and hailstorms in 2013 and, to a lesser extent, again in 2014, many Texas wineries purchase fruit from California and Washington just to keep things going in their tasting rooms and sales programs. So, the FSITO label designation was widely used in 2013 and 2014 for wines sold in 2014-2016. According to the rules laid out by the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco, Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), see below, these wines could have, and probably should have been labeled with the American appellation.

                      Label               Min. % of Grapes

Appellation    Designation     from the Appellation

Country          American               75%       (anywhere USA)

State               Texas                     75%       (100% CA & OR)

County           County Name        75%

AVA                AVA Name             85%      (95% OR)

Vineyard        Specific Name       95%

Another potential level of consumer confusion relates to the State appellation that can be used on a Texas wine label. Texas is considered a regional appellation by the TTB and if the appellation on the label just says Texas, federal regulations require a wine to contain only 75% made from grapes grown in Texas. Since this 75% is a federal regulation, it applies to every state (AZ, VA, NJ, NY, etc.) unless laws are enacted to require a greater percentage from the state noted (e.g., CA, OR). Many winemakers have taken exception to this and worked to promote Texas-specific legislation, similar to that in California and Oregon, where a Texas label designation indicates more than just 75% of the grapes came from Lone Star State vineyards. 

This would seem a reasonable thing to do, but there were those who argued that not enough grapes were being grown in Texas to have all wines produced in the state made from Texas-grown grapes. The arguments and controversy continued for several years. In 2021, compromise legislation was agreed upon to ease the tension and tighten the designation rules for growers, wineries, and Texas consumers. An effort led primarily by Texas Wine Growers, a group of winemakers banded together to promote better “truth in labeling standards” achieved a milestone when in summer, 2021, Governor Abbott signed into law House Bill 1957 which set new regulations for the labeling of wines produced in Texas. Now we need to educate wine buyers and enthusiasts as to what these new labeling designations mean for Texas wines.


Figure 1. The author, part of a Brennan Vineyards team, visiting

Governor Abbott at the Governor’s Mansion in Austin, TX,

during an event to promote and support the Texas Wine Industry


This new law, effective 01-Sep-2021, requires any wine labeled with a Texas county, AVA, or vineyard designation to follow more stringent requirements, essentially setting labeling standards for these wines to contain 100% Texas grapes.

County designation – 75% of the grapes must come from within that Texas county; the remaining 25% may come from anywhere else within Texas.

American Viticultural Area (AVA) – 85% of the grapes must come from within that Texas AVA; the remaining 15% may come from anywhere else within Texas.

Vineyard Designation – 95% of the grapes must come from that Texas vineyard; the remaining 5% may come from anywhere else within Texas.

The federal standard is still in effect - a wine simply labeled with the Texas regional appellation requires only 75% of the grapes come from within Texas, but the additional 25% can come from another state.

Note: A winery may use the Texas designation on the label but can also add the County designation. With both Texas and County on the label, that bottle should contain wine made only from Texas-grown grapes.

So, with these new Texas regulations, updated label designations look like this.

                              Label             Min. % Grapes                              Requirements

Appellation    Designation      from Appellation                           Now for Texas
Country          American                 75%     (anywhere USA)
State               Texas                       75%     (100% CA & OR)
County           County Name          75%                                        75% + 25% Texas
AVA                AVA Name               85%    (95% OR)                  85% + 15% Texas
Vineyard        Specific Name         95%                                        95% + 5% Texas


Here is a simple graphic to help you recognize label designations and what they now mean for Texas wines.

Can You Recognize a

100% Texas Wine?

Here’s How!

Label Designations are Important –

They Define Grape Origin


75% Grapes from that TX County

+ Other 25% also from Texas

American Viticultural Area

85% from that TX AVA

+ Other 15% also from Texas


95% Grapes from that TX Vineyard

+ Other 5 % also from Texas

- - Other Designations - -


Requires Only 75% Grapes from Texas


Less than 75%, or even All Grapes NOT from Texas


For wine growers in the 8 Texas AVAs, the AVA designation can certainly be recognizable and useful on the bottle label. However, there are many vineyards in Texas that are not included within the boundaries of an AVA. For these areas noted in part #8 of this series, particularly west central and north Texas (WCNT) and the northeastern region (NET), the County designation can become an important labeling tool. The County label can designate more clearly where the grapes came from, at least 75% of them, and assure the consumer that all the wine in the bottle came from grapes grown in Texas. Until new Texas AVAs are petitioned and granted, the County designation may well become a key factor in labeling Texas wines. Within a larger AVA, like the Texas High Plains (8 million acres across 24 counties), a County designation like Hockley (Levelland), Terry (Brownfield), Yoakum (Plains), and Gaines (Seminole and Seagraves) are being seen more often on labels. This certainly helps to understand where the grapes were grown and is probably a guiding signal for the eventual development of Texas sub-AVAs loosely based on County areas. Remember, there are 254 counties in Texas – that could translate into a lot of “AVAs”.

The immediate goal is to create an educational program that will let consumers know about these legislated label designations that define areas of grape origin and denote wine produced from 100% Texas grapes – REAL TEXAS WINE. Support for this effort from TWGGA, Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association, is expected.

Now you know what to look for on a Texas wine label, and what a specific designation means regarding Texas grapes used to make that wine. This should make it easier for all of us consumers and dedicated Texas wine drinkers to support our state industry. 


The Texas Wine Lover website, created and maintained by Jeff Cope, is a great source listing most of the vineyards and wineries located in the Lone Star State.


Previous Carl’s Corner Posts in this “Texas AVAs – What and Why?” Series include the following: all posted under the blog portion of the www.texaswinecollective.com website

#1  What’s An AVA, Mama?                                                   05-Jan-2022

#2  What Does an AVA on a Wine Label Mean?                   22-Jan-2022

#3  How is an AVA Established?                                           28-Feb-2022

#4  What is the Value of an AVA?                                          14-Mar-2022

#5  Texas Hill Country AVA                                                   08-May-2022

#6  Texas High Plains AVA                                                   08-Jun-2022

#7  The Other Texas AVAs                                                   09-Jul-2022

#8  Important Areas NOT in a Texas AVA                            07-Aug-2022


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