Wine Time

Me and the TABC (Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission)

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission is not as scary as it sounds. In fact, its mission extends beyond the regulation of alcohol in our state: It also creates, administers, and promotes awareness of programs that encourage the safe and responsible application of alcohol in our communities, large and small, from El Paso to Orange, from Texas-made vodka to the fine wines of Burgundy, France.

Yesterday, in the wake of my post, Absurdity of Texas Wine Shipping Law Reaches New Heights, I received an email from the TABC with the following message: "Please call me." And so I picked up the phone and I promptly called Carolyn Beck, Director of Communications and Governmental Relations, whose office is located in our state's capital.

Beck and I have spoken many times before: Whereas alcohol commissions in other states can tend to be monolithic affairs, impenetrable and coated in bureaucratic prolixity, the folks at the TABC actually answer the phone and are extremely friendly (one of those things I love about my adoptive state of Texas).

She wanted to make a few clarifications regarding yesterday's post. Here they are:

  • As a "winery" in Texas, will be able to buy wines from purveyors outside Texas. In other words, even if a product is not currently present in the Texas market, can source it from sellers outside the state (she mentioned this referring to Tom Wark's notes, posted by me in the comment section).
  • In 2010, a Federal district court ruled that Texas has the right not to allow out-of-state retailers to ship here. Although it was technically legal, however virtually impossible, for out-of-state retailers to ship here until that ruling, it is now illegal (she mentioned this referring to my reporting that it was still technically legal).
  • Historically, many business entities have been granted the same winery license awarded to It's a license that allows businesses to sell wine in dry counties, as long as the wine contains a percentage of grapes grown in Texas. Like, they don't have to produce wine to obtain the license. She did note, however, that this is the first time a winery license has been granted to business that applied for the license in order to run an online retail business in the state.

As Beck pointed out in our conversation yesterday (and as she has noted in previous correspondence), the TABC doesn't write the rules; its mission is to enforce them. You can follow Beck on Twitter @TexasABC.

She and I also discussed organizing a round table in January for wine professionals and writers and I'll look forward to posting about it here at Wine Time on Eating Our Words.

The bottom line? The TABC is engaged and friendly, and its representatives are here to help us navigate the bureaucracy of wine sales and consumption in our state.

But, sadly, I still can't get that bottle of that under-$25 Chianti Classico that I love so much -- unless a rogue retailer is willing to ship it to me illegally creatively, as someone pointed out on the Twitter yesterday.

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