Fritz Westover, a viticulture specialist from the Texas Gulf Coast region, sends out an email newsletter.  I received one yesterday with a note on how Texas is hoping to expand their grape-growing industry:

TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE ANNOUNCES $250,000 IN GRANTS TO GROW THE STATE’S GRAPE INDUSTRY

Funds will help Texas grape growers start new operations or expand existing ones

AUSTIN – As a result of the continuing interest in the state’s booming wine industry, the Texas Department of Agriculture today announced it is accepting applications for its Wine Grape Investment Grant Program from producers who wish to establish new vineyard operations or expand existing ones by at least five acres. A total of $250,000 is available through this program.

“Texas produces an estimated 2.4 million gallons of wine every year and the industry contributes $1.35 billion annually to the state’s economy,”

Deputy Agriculture Commissioner Drew DeBerry said. “The industry is limited by the availability of grapes and these grants play a key role in sustaining the growth of Texas wine grape production.”

Since 2008, TDA has awarded approximately $500,000 in matching program grants to 18 Texas vineyards. Grant recipients matched these awards with their own capital investments totaling $2.8 million. The maximum grant amount that may be awarded to a single vineyard is $25,000.

The Wine Grape Investment Grant Program is housed under TDA’s Rural Economic Development Division. Applications will be accepted through Aug. 12, 2010. For program details, producers may visit www.TexasAgriculture.gov <http://www.texasagriculture.gov/>  and click on Grants/Funding.

Texas is serious about growing their industry.  The TDA obviously sees the benefit to the Texas economy — $1.35 billion dollars!  We really need to understand the impact of our grape and wine industry on Oklahoma’s economy in order to get legislators to see the need for investment in this industry.

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