I’ve spent the last 27 days pretty much talking about how our state’s alcoholic beverage code handcuffs local business.  But what about when it supports local business?

The Texas wine industry is a great example. In 2001, prior to legislative reforms that allowed wineries to sell wine to consumers on-premise, Texas wine was a $132 million business, employing about 1,800 people.  Only 8 years later, when reform was in full effect but still in its early stages, the industry had grown to $1.35 billion and employed over 9,000 people.  In the meantime, Texas had grown to the 5th largest wine producing state in the US.

In Oregon, where laws relating to breweries are significantly more supportive than in Texas, the states brewers produced over 1 million barrels of beer in 2008, employed 5,000 people at Oregon breweries and generated an estimated economic impact of $2.2 billion.  Texas Small Craft Brewers (breweries and brewpubs under 75,000 barrels) pale in comparison, producing less than 75,000 barrels combined, employing a little over 800 people and generating an economic impact of approximately $45 million.

It is plain to see what is at stake for Texas.  Why would we not support local breweries and allow them to help our economy the way wineries has here and breweries have in Oregon?  HB 660 and HB 602 would be the first steps in the right direction.