As we found out earlier from Bobby Champion, Jr., former State Coordinator for Wine Marketing at the Texas Department of Agriculture, the Texas Winery Passport program was going to be restructured. An email was sent to Texas wineries yesterday regarding the current Passport program and a “new and improved” program will begin next year. Be sure to enter any Passport booklets you have by the end of October.
As you know, during the 82nd Texas Legislative Session, budget reductions were imposed on the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) and funding for the Texas Wine Marketing Program, along with many successful wine outreach initiatives, was dissolved on August 31, 2011. As our valued partner, we want to inform you that as a part of these changes, the Texas Winery Passport Program is ending on October 31, 2011 and a broadened passport program funded by all GO TEXAN members will take its place early next year. Consumers will soon be sent an email informing them of this change, and the information will be posted on TDA websites.
While we have all celebrated the success of the Texas Winery Passport, we look forward to new opportunities for the promotion of wine along with other Texas products under the GO TEXAN program. Most significantly, we are excited to announce that a new passport program is being developed to include participation by all GO TEXAN businesses so consumers can GO TEXAN all the time. We will include wineries, microbreweries, florists, nurseries, retail shops, bed and breakfasts, restaurants, farmers markets and pick your own farms in a virtual passport that can be accessed through our GO TEXAN smart phone app. Knowing the success of the original passport program, we hope you will be an active participant in the development of this new initiative, and we will keep you posted on our progress. We plan to launch this new program in Spring 2012.
TDA would like to thank all of our Texas wineries which have participated in the program since 2008; working with each of you has been a pleasure. I think we all discovered something new, made friends along the way and enjoyed working to grow and prosper Texas wines and wineries. The new passport is an opportunity to continue this successful tradition.
For those participants currently engaged in the passport program, TDA will honor each level obtained up to the closing date on October 31, 2011, and participants will have until November 15, 2011, to redeem rewards. Please direct consumers to contact us at gotexan@TexasAgriculture.gov or (877) 99-GOTEX if they have questions about how to complete their passport.
Thank you for your participation in the wine passport program, and we hope you will GO TEXAN with the NEW passport next year! If you are not already a member, please visit www.gotexan.org to join the GO TEXAN program today.