winemapLocal winemaker Allan Fetty said he and his wife, Margaret, own one of the few Texas wineries that produce wine from “100 percent Texas-grown grapes.”

The state’s wineries are involved in a battle over proposed legislation to require wines labeled as originating in Texas to be from juice or fruit wholly grown and produced in the state.

Sponsored by Sen. Dawn Buckingham, R-Lakeway, and Rep. Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs, the identical bills were filed March 9 and Feb. 2, respectively.

Fetty, who said he has been growing grapes for 20 years at Westcave Cellars Winery, said he estimates about 20 Texas wineries produce 100 percent Texas-grown wines among about 350 permitted wineries in the state.

“I certainly agree with the [legislation],” Fetty said. “We consider it to be a truth-in-labeling issue.”

According to federal and state regulations, a wine label can contain a region of origin attributing the wine to Texas if at least 75 percent of it is from fruit grown in the state.

“You can put up to 25 percent of other wine in the bottle and call it Texas wine,” Fetty said. “[Winemakers] can save money by blending it—the cost of bringing in grapes or juice is less than the cost to grow grapes.”

He also said tasting rooms may start a flight with wholly Texas wines but finish up with wines from outside the state. If a patron asks at the beginning of the session if the wines are from Texas, he or she may receive a “Yes” response, allowing the rest of the session's wines to appear produced in Texas, he said.

"We want our wine to be authentic, not only for people in Texas but especially for visitors,” Fetty said.

However, Robert Fritz, winemaker and co-owner of Solaro Estate Vineyards & Winery in Dripping Springs, disagrees, despite saying his wines are 100 percent made from Texas grapes.

“We don’t think politics has a place in wine,” he said. “[The bill] is a good way to kill or slow down the industry.”

He said building a winery and growing a vineyard takes time, and the bill, if passed, would create a hardship on young, local winemakers needing to achieve a 100 percent local product.

The Texas Hill Country Wineries Association member said the group voted overwhelmingly to oppose the bill.

“I think great wines have no borders,” he said about the current law that allows a blending of up to 25 percent of wine or grapes derived outside the state. “Isolationism is not a good idea in any business.”

Isaac said his bill would permit the state to allow a lesser requirement than 100 percent Texas-grown grapes in a state-labeled wine if a crop is diminished by weather or other adverse conditions.

He said he hopes the two sides can meet in the middle on the issue.

"I shot for the moon, hoping we could come to a compromise of a phase-in approach [to the bill]," he said. "Hopefully we can get to 80 percent with a date of implementation in two years."