REFLECTIONS ON “DRINK NORTH TEXAS’
by Andrew Chalk
Last Sunday I joined over 200 wine lovers at ‘Drink North Texas’ at the Addison Conference Center to blind taste 44 wines.
The common factor across the wines was the fact that they were produced by member wineries of North Texas Wine Country (NTWC).
In North Texas (the 22 counties in a region from Dallas/Fort Worth to the Red River which is the border with Oklahoma) 26 wineries have banded together and formed this trade association with the objective of marketing their wine.
“The number of wineries in this area has exploded in the last decade but we feel we still need to get the word out that so many good wines are being made here”
Darlene Leike, Director, North Texas Wine Country.
The blind tasting was their first event. Reflecting on it, here are some thoughts.
It was an excellent idea to get the North Texas Wine Country name and north Texas wine out there in front of consumers;
It was amazing that it came together so well, so quickly. Glitches were minor at the level of the live music (a guitarist) could not be heard (towards the end I went up and asked him “When are you going to start playing”? Oddly enough, he didn’t laugh);
Great publicity. To get over 200 people so quickly is remarkable;
It was a great idea to have the blind tasting first, then lead people into a second hall where all the winemakers had booths set up serving their wines. It gave a chance for the public to see the faces behind the names;
Having completed this successful launch, NTWC must quickly follow up ‘while the iron is hot’;
In particular, nobody outside a small inner circle knows what a “North Texas Wine” is. NTWC needs to immediately design a logo to go on every bottle to indicate that it is north Texas wine. That gives the (busy) consumer an instant key that a bottle they are looking at in the store is a North Texas wine. It will take years for the government to approve a ‘North Texas’ AVA (and it may never do so) so the group must start its own identification program.
It was disappointing to see wines that were not from north Texas (e.g. a Pinot Noir labelled ‘American’ and a Paso Robles wine). They must be excluded from future events if this new group is going to have any credibility. The wines must be appellated ‘Texas’ or one of the sub-appellations. At the moment that means Texoma AVA, or one of the counties in the designated production area.
Lots of scope for improving the web site (which obviously reflects the group’s month long existence in its present form);
The group’s first hire (from its massive budget) should be a certified sommelier who goes around to every restaurant in the designated area that has at least a semi-plausible wine list and presents the group’s wines to sommeliers, beverage directors, food and beverage managers, and GMs on a sommelier-to-sommelier level. Then ask for the sale;
Organize a crawl for area sommeliers to show them the wineries and meet the people;
Change the name of the organization to something that is syntactically similar to the names used by area promotion organizations in California (e.g. ‘North Texas Winegrowers’);
Talk to the organizers of the best California area promotion organizations about how they ‘do it’;
Create a wine trail backed by an app;