Take a look at the label wine label above. Where does the wine come from? If you said “Texas” you and Master of Wine James Cluer are in the same boat. In an article on wine label design in San Antonio Magazine he criticized the label for causing “potential confusion created by emphasizing the wine’s Texas origins—with two mentions of it on the label — given that it is a French Colombard”. He was doubtless fooled partly by the cheerful “Texas Style” logo on the front label and the references to the Texas palate on the back. Yet the key to this wine’s undisclosed origins are in the smallest typeface on the label, on the bottom right on the back where the eye is least likely to read it: “For Sale In Texas Only” (FSITO) allows the origin of the grapes to be concealed.
FSITO takes the wine out of interstate commerce. As a result, federal labelling law does not apply. Texas state law, far too lax, does. Unlike Federal law, it does not require the origin of the grapes to be stated on the label.
Why would the winery want to hide the origin of the grapes? Because they think sales will be better if people (you, me, and Masters of Wine) think that they are buying a Texas wine than what this wine actually is (likely California fruit). The winery could have been quite open by stating, for example, “Made in Texas from California grapes” as other wineries do, but they did not.
The important point with this labelling is not just that it misleads Masters of Wine and discredits the whole Texas wine industry in their minds, it is that when consumers find out they were fooled they just stop buying Texas wine “If I get California wine, I will buy the real thing”. FSITO labelling is not “Texas Style”.
I know that the real Texas wine industry is populated by Texas wineries making Texas wine out of Texas grapes, and real growers cultivating real acreage, but I cannot fight against 50,000 bottles portraying such an audacious misrepresentation as the label above.
What we need is state legislation or a rules change to require any FSITO wine to also carry the place of origin of the grapes on the front label in a font at least 20 points high in a highly contrasting color. Then we will know what is Texas wine, and what isn’t. In the interim, getting a Master of Wine qualification (five plus years of study) won’t help you.