The Texas Winery Passport program is a fantastic program to get into if you are a consumer of Texas wines and especially enjoy visiting Texas wineries. The problem is not many people know about it!
We did not know about the program until we happened to be at Texas Hills Vineyard in Johnson City (http://www.texashillsvineyard.com) and the pourer asked if we wanted the Texas wine passport code for their winery. Not knowing what she was asking, she explained what the program was and that started our journey to visit Texas wineries. Unfortunately we had already visited a few wineries, so it meant a return to those wineries to get their Texas wine passport code. That also means no other Texas winery told us about the program.
First, here’s the link to the free Texas Winery Passport program which has further links to details about the program: http://www.gotexanwine.org/passport/index.html
We have explained to more than a handful of people about the program which we summarize as being similar to an airline frequent flier program where you gain miles and eventually can turn them into free airline flights. In every case, we are always thanked for the information and in some cases they wish they had known about it earlier as they had already visited Texas wineries.
So this post is directed to you, the Texas wineries. Wineries which participate in the Texas Winery Passport program receive a display which they usually display in their tasting room. The display holds a number of passport booklets along with the special Texas wine passport code for that winery.
Most wineries we visit do have the display but we sometimes have to ask for the winery’s code. Most of the time, the person at the winery has a stamp with the code or knows the code by heart and writes it in our passport booklet. However, we have come across wineries which do not know their number so they end up having to call somebody to get it. Sometimes that phone call doesn’t produce a passport code and we’re told the next time we come in, they should have the code. This happened at Water 2 Wine in Houston.
The GO TEXAN website lists over 130 Texas wineries and that makes it easy to find wineries with Texas wine passport codes, however since there are roughly 215 wineries, you may come across wineries which aren’t listed but also have passport codes. If you really want to see if they have a passport code, you will either need to take a chance and stop by, or call prior to visiting. I have called some wineries asking if they have a Texas wine passport code, and in some cases, I was told they think they had a code because they have a display but had no idea how the program worked. I in turn end up educating them on the Texas Winery Passport program.
We visited one local winery in Katy and it is a very nice winery. When we asked if they had a Texas wine passport code, the answer was the owners had not gotten around to apply for one yet even though they had been open for over a year. That’s too bad because the consumers who do know about the Texas Winery Passport program would surely visit their winery which would mean more business.
Maybe we do not know all the details behind the Texas Winery Passport program, but to us any kind of advertising, especially when somebody else is doing it for you, i.e. GO TEXAN website, is great advertising.
Another local winery is scheduled to open soon which I found out by calling them. They have been listed on the GO TEXAN website for a long time but just haven’t opened yet. He assured me he would have everything in place, including a Texas wine passport code, in time for the opening. Now that is one person in our opinion who understands what it means.
It’s Up to You
If you have a Texas winery, or are involved with one, we would suggest telling consumers about the Texas Winery Passport program. It can only mean more business for you. We recently received our 109th Texas wine passport code. We can guarantee if it wasn’t for the Texas Winery Passport program, we would not have gone out of our way to visit many of the Texas wineries we have and purchase all the Texas wine we have gotten. However, we did have a fun time at most Texas wineries we have visited.
This year the state of Texas decided to cut the wine marketing budget for the Texas Department of Agriculture. We are not sure what that means for the Texas Winery Passport program, but we do hope it will continue in some way in the future especially for you, the Texas winery.