Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Wine >
Mar 6, 2013 11:40 AM

"For sale in Texas only" (?) lower end Texas wines

On a recent trip to Texas, I went to the supermarket to get a bottle of wine for the evening. When checking out the Texas-produced bottle (yes, they have a wine industry in Texas), I noticed that a couple of the lower end wines had a notice on the label that said "for sale in Texas only." This included a Chardonnay by Becker and a "red table wine" by Lost Maples. Both of these wines are perfectly good everyday wines, and their prices is under $8 a bottle. What I'd like to know is why these wines aren't sold outside of Texas. Is this some kind of weird state law or is it a marketing decision by the winery?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. From the link at bottom:

    For Sale in Texas Only indicates that a label exception has been made. Labels are required to list the source of grapes. If a winery doesn’t want to use an appellation (usually because they are importing grapes from out of state) then they can leave the appellation off, ask for an exception with the caveat that they use the “For Sale in Texas Only” notation on the label.

    Now, a winery might get an exception or use the notation for other reasons, so that is not a hard and fast rule, but if there is no appellation listed, you can rest assured that they are importing grapes from California, New Mexico, Oklahoma or somewhere and they don’t want their buying public to know that. They may even be blending their own grapes with out of state grapes, importing made wine and bottling it, importing juice, grapes or even bottled but unlabeled wine. There is nothing illegal about the practice, but it is a bit deceiving to make people think they are buying wine and supporting the Texas winegrowing industry.

    When purchasing Texas wine, look for “Texas”, Texas Hill Country, Texas High Plains, or even a county name on the label. It can’t use a vineyard name if it is not in an AVA. If you don’t see anything like that AND it has For Sale in Texas Only, you are buying imported juice.

    1. Its a sensitive topic in the Texas Wine and grape industry. Here is a very recent write up on it and comments below.

      1. This is a federal law.
        Texas wineries aren't all trying to pull something over on the public. The fact is that there is just not enough fruit being produced in the state to supply all of the juice for Texas wines. When a Texas wine uses grapes from outside of Texas, this language is required. You may also see "American Appellation".

        1. There are dozens of wines that are labeled, for example, "For Sale in California Only."

          The key is that you do not need to meet Federal label approval if you aren't selling your wine across state lines, AND you can make your wine according to state regulations, rather than Federal ones.

          4 Replies
          1. re: zin1953

            Interesting. I've lived and bought wine in California for 54 years and have never noticed that wording ..... ever.

            1. re: Midlife

              Just because you haven't noticed it doesn't mean it hasn't been there . . .

              It is most typically found when, for example, a small winery failed to get its COLA; since it was a small lot, they decided to forego the expense and hassle of changing their label and re-submitting it (or in some cases having to remove the labels already on the bottle and re-lable the bottles) and just sell it in-state -- either make it a "winery only" offering, or by selling it directly to a handful of retailers and on-sale establishments . . . again, *only* in-state,

              1. re: zin1953

                >>"Just because you haven't noticed it doesn't mean it hasn't been there . . . "<<

                Really, Jason?? Having a bad day? Not your usual self? I guess, if I really work at it, that my post could have implied that I didn't believe you, but that was most certainly not in my mind.

                adjective: snarky; comparative adjective: snarkier; superlative adjective: snarkiest

                1. (of a person, words, or a mood) sharply critical; cutting; snide.
                "the kid who makes snarky remarks in class"


              2. re: Midlife

                I've never seen that either. Googling "for sale in California only" I find one report of a bottle with that on the label.

                Probably it was more common before wineries had clubs with out-of-state members.

            2. Thanks for the replies. It's clear this is similar to the "American Riesling" I once purchased from a West Virginia winery. I guess I shouldn't be too bent out of shape, as it's not like I paid extra for these wines, they were basically plonk, good plonk, but plonk nonetheless. But, still, why can't the private sector be honest about the stuff they sell? It's enough to turn one into a socialist!

              6 Replies
              1. re: ConsApi

                Not sure I get your complaint: "For sale in Texas only" means exactly that. Or in other words: "We are not in compliance with federal law". Which part of that statement you take as dishonest?

                1. re: RicRios

                  The terminology "For sale in Texas only" suggests that this is some sort of exclusive special product that you can't get anywhere else. What it actually means is that the wine is not fully a product of Texas, but may well be California plonk rebottled with the name of a Texas winery. Now, California plonk may be fine to have with spaghetti and meatballs, but why does the seller need to suggest that this is a Texas product?

                  I'm sorry, I spend my life having to put up with sales and marketing bullshit from the people who sell me the things I need to live my life. Is private business capable of telling the truth about the stuff they sell to us? You can see why at times I think a socialist revolution might be the only way to deal with these lying biznoids.

                  1. re: ConsApi

                    '...a socialist revolution might be the only way...'


                    if gatekeepers allow this post to stay, you can call yourself lucky.

                    1. re: ConsApi

                      I have NO IDEA what you're talking about, but I don't think you have understood what you've purchased . . . PLUS you seem convinced that you have -- somehow -- been "hoodwinked" or lied to, when I've seen no evidence of that whatsoever.

                      Under FEDERAL regulations:

                      a) If you make wine from grapes grown in a non-contiguous state -- e.g.: you are in West Virginia, and you get grapes from Michigan -- you can ONLY label your wine as "American." No great secret, just Federal regulations.

                      b) As I explained to you above, all "For Sale In _____________ Only" means is that the label was *not* submitted for Federal label approval, and therefor it is UNLAWFUL to sell it outside of the state in which it was produced.

                      I've made wine that was labeled "For Sale in California Only." I've sold wine that was labeled "For Sale in California Only." I've purchased wine that was labeled "For Sale in Texas Only," "For Sale in Louisiana Only," and "For Sale in Massachusetts Only."

                      There is NO "grand conspiracy," and you are TOTALLY OFF-BASE that

                      a) "What it actually means is that the wine is not fully a product of Texas." (No, it does NOT.)

                      b) "why does the seller need to suggest that this is a Texas product?" (Because it is.)

                      It's one thing to believe in the second gunman on the grassy knoll. It's another to believe opting to *not* submit your label for TTB approval is somehow conspiratorial, underhanded, and deceptive . . .

                      1. re: ConsApi

                        Well, it is limiting, and possibly "exclusive," but that depends on how you read things.

                        A particular wine CAN be sold in TX, but not elsewhere. That is in compliance with the laws, and is not marketing hype.

                        What is the problem with such?


                    2. re: ConsApi

                      Labeling the wine American is being honest and a good way to go instead of FSITO. And, it is "honester" too.