Texas Wine Laws: What Defines an “Estate”

Augusta Vin is founded on authenticity and quality in every aspect of our wines. We take pride in offering 100% Texas wines and are well on our way to offering a 100% Estate Menu. What does that mean, exactly? Wine labeling laws vary throughout the world, so this week’s masterclass will discuss how Texas identifies and regulates quality in the Texas wine industry.

What is on the label?

A wine’s label is the key to understanding what is in the bottle. This information can be found on either the front or back of the label. Each aspect is required to be included by law, with a couple of exceptions for the Vintage and Varietal. We’ll discuss that later.

See the front and back label of our Estate Petite Sirah as an example. Each element is labeled with a number, corresponding to an explanation below.

1 – Vintner: The name of the winery producing the wine.

2 – Varietal or Name: Sometimes a single varietal will be listed, but a blended wine will instead have a unique name. In order to list the wine as a single varietal, however, both United States and Texas Wine Law require 75% or more of the grapes used for a wine be of the stated variety.

3 – ABV: This stands for Alcohol by Volume. Generally, wine will be listed between 10% and 15%.

4 – Vintage: (Optional) The vintage represents the harvest year. Because slight differences in the terroir (i.e. weather conditions) every year, a vintage distinction identifies what year the grapes were harvested. This is typically only used in single varietal wines.

5 – Viticultural Area: In the United States, this is referred to as AVA (American Viticultural Area), but is internationally called an “Appellation.” Texas has six primary AVAs:

– Texas High Plains AVA
– Texas Hill Country AVA
– Texas Davis Mountains AVA
– Bell Mountain AVA
– Mesila Valley AVA
– Escondido Valley AVA

US and Texas Law both require that 75% or more of the grapes used must be from Texas in order to call it a “Texas wine.” More acutely, in order to list an AVA Texas Law requires that 85% of the grapes come from that specific region.

6 – Estate Bottled: “Estate” certifies that the winery grew 100% of the grapes on land it owns or controls and that the winery produced (crushed, fermented, finished, aged, and bottled) the wine in a continuous process on the same property.

At Augusta Vin, 100% of our grapes are from Texas and from the AVA listed on the back of the label. As our Fredericksburg estate vineyard grows, we aim to use 100% of our Estate fruit in the very near future.

What does Estate Mean, Really?

For a winery focused on quality, the “Estate” classification demonstrates our dedication to providing the Augusta Vin experience 100% from grape to glass. Each of these winemaking elements occurs on the 100-acre property that houses not only our Tasting Room, but our vineyard and production facility as well.

Vineyard: First planted in 2017, our estate vineyard features 11 varietals: Counoise, Sagrantino, Petite Sirah, Malbec, Souzao, Tempranillo, Tannat, Mourvedre, Cabernet Sauvingnon, Albarino, and Picpoul Blanc. March’s bud break signaled the start of a critical period in the Texas viticulture growing season, as our vines are now waking up from their dormant cycle. For the past few weeks, our tasting room team has partnered with the vineyard crew to maintain our 60 acres of vines, planting and pruning to ensure that our harvest is the highest quality possible.

Production: You’ve heard of French and American barrels, but have you ever tried wine aged in Hungarian oak? Our barrel lineup includes barrels from cooperages in all three nations, each toasted to a specific toast level. Good wine can only come out of good grapes and good fermentation, so we take pride in the level of attention we give our wine throughout the aging process. Our barrel hall holds over 500 barrels, each tended to on a regular schedule and with the utmost care.

Bottling: One of the most rewarding moments in winemaking, the bottling process is the final stage of production that takes a finished wine and encapsulates it for sale and service. A day-long process, bottling is a fast-paced team effort. Our wine club members are often invited to join in the fun as bottling party volunteers! This month, we bottled four of our upcoming Reserve Wines, as well as many of our fan favorites.

Service: After years of tending, growing, harvesting, fermenting, and aging, we finally have the pleasure to serve and enjoy this artisan craft. Winemaking is an artform, and on our estate each aspect is managed by a part of the August Vin family. When you visit our Tasting Room or order our wines online, you know for a fact that we took no short cuts. Even behind the bar, our team values knowledge and wine education. Our service team includes four sommeliers, and many team members who are training to begin the certification process! We are passionate about wine, from start to finish, and we love sharing that passion with you.

Learn more: During our normal business hours, we offer Saturday tours and private group tours of our estate, showing the behind the scenes world of wine. If you are interested in booking a tour, please email us at events@augustavin.com to discuss options and availability.

Estate Petite Sirah - Deductive Tasting Practice

Sight

Clarity: Clear

Concentration: Opaque

Color: Purple & ruby

Nose

Intensity: Medium-plus to high

Age: Young

Fruit: Blueberry, Black Cherry, Boysenberry

Non-Fruit: Spice, tea leaves

Earth/Herb: Anise, lavender

Wood: Vanilla, coconut

Palate

Non-Fruit: Pink Peppercorn, black tea

Earth/Herb: Anise, eucalyptus

Wood: French-American

Bitterness: Low

Tannin: Medium

Acid: Low

Alcohol: Medium

Balance: Complex, long finish, medium bodied mouth feel, finishes with lush tannins

Petite Sirah is known for a higher skin-to-juice grape ratio, meaning you’ll get richer flavor and color, along with dense tannins. Being such a full-bodied red, you’ll want to pair it with richer and fatty foods, or else this heavyweight wine will knock them right out of the ring.

Excellent pairings for Petite Sirah would be anything off the grill. Ribs and burgers work well, but don’t forget venison, roasted pork, and, the unlikely pairing, chicken with mole sauce! Bacon-wrapped dates, baked brie with raspberry, chipotle jam, and BBQ chicken sliders are also on our list of favorites, as well as our own handmade dark chocolate truffles.

Tasting Notes by:
Andre Boada, Advanced Sommelier – Augusta Vin
April Fischer, Sommelier – Augusta Vin, Tasting Room Manager
Katie Bishop, Sommelier – Augusta Vin, Wine Club Manager

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