In Texas, a Locavore’s Liquor

Microdistillers are making their mark around the Lone Star State

The first microdistillery in the U.S. was California's St. George Spirits, founded in 1982. (Robert Galbraith / Reuters / Corbis)

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In 1995, around the same time Tito Beveridge was launching his distilling career, a group of Texas wineries formed the state’s Wine and Grape Growers Association. For 15 years, they’ve organized festivals, advocated for and generally created buzz about Texas wine around the country.

Recently, there have been efforts to start a similar group for Texas liquor producers. Some, like David Alan, think that having more cohesion in the ranks would strengthen the movement and aid attempts to repeal Prohibition-era dry laws in the state. As of November 2010, it was still illegal to sell alcohol in at least portions of 210 of the state’s 254 counties, according to the Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission.

So far, the efforts haven’t taken. “We’ve gotten together and talked, but . . . I’m doing my own thing,” Beveridge says. “I guess I’m pretty competitive.”

For now, camaraderie comes from having “Distilled in Texas” on bottle labels. That alone is starting to turn some heads around the world — last fall, Chip Tate got a call from someone in Sweden who had read about his business and wanted to buy some liquor.

“I think it’s partially that we’re doing unique things, but there’s definitely the Texas phenomenon,” he says. “But novelty will only get a first purchase — you have to make something that’s good.”


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