Me and the TABC (Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission)

Categories: Wine Time

tabc to go.jpg
Image via the Texas Restaurant Association.
TABC To Go is an excellent online TABC certification program for Texas restaurant and bar workers. Although not required by the state, many Texas employers require certification to ensure proper service of alcohol.
The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission is not as scary as it sounds. In fact, its mission extends beyond the regulation of alcohol in our state: It also creates, administers, and promotes awareness of programs that encourage the safe and responsible application of alcohol in our communities, large and small, from El Paso to Orange, from Texas-made vodka to the fine wines of Burgundy, France.

Yesterday, in the wake of my post, Absurdity of Texas Wine Shipping Law Reaches New Heights, I received an email from the TABC with the following message: "Please call me." And so I picked up the phone and I promptly called Carolyn Beck, Director of Communications and Governmental Relations, whose office is located in our state's capital.

Beck and I have spoken many times before: Whereas alcohol commissions in other states can tend to be monolithic affairs, impenetrable and coated in bureaucratic prolixity, the folks at the TABC actually answer the phone and are extremely friendly (one of those things I love about my adoptive state of Texas).

She wanted to make a few clarifications regarding yesterday's post. Here they are:

  • As a "winery" in Texas, will be able to buy wines from purveyors outside Texas. In other words, even if a product is not currently present in the Texas market, can source it from sellers outside the state (she mentioned this referring to Tom Wark's notes, posted by me in the comment section).
  • In 2010, a Federal district court ruled that Texas has the right not to allow out-of-state retailers to ship here. Although it was technically legal, however virtually impossible, for out-of-state retailers to ship here until that ruling, it is now illegal (she mentioned this referring to my reporting that it was still technically legal).
  • Historically, many business entities have been granted the same winery license awarded to It's a license that allows businesses to sell wine in dry counties, as long as the wine contains a percentage of grapes grown in Texas. Like, they don't have to produce wine to obtain the license. She did note, however, that this is the first time a winery license has been granted to business that applied for the license in order to run an online retail business in the state.

austin capital dome.jpg
Photo via NixBC.
The TABC doesn't write the rules. Texas state legislators do. The TABC just enforces the rules.
As Beck pointed out in our conversation yesterday (and as she has noted in previous correspondence), the TABC doesn't write the rules; its mission is to enforce them. You can follow Beck on Twitter @TexasABC.

She and I also discussed organizing a round table in January for wine professionals and writers and I'll look forward to posting about it here at Wine Time on Eating Our Words.

The bottom line? The TABC is engaged and friendly, and its representatives are here to help us navigate the bureaucracy of wine sales and consumption in our state.

But, sadly, I still can't get that bottle of that under-$25 Chianti Classico that I love so much -- unless a rogue retailer is willing to ship it to me illegally creatively, as someone pointed out on the Twitter yesterday.

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Researching whether we could have some CA wine shipped to us in TX, I came across your blog postings about the TABC and it's referenced post about This broke open a very old wound caused by that apparently never healed. My husband and I were given a $50 gift certificate for their service. We went to the site and ordered a $40-50 dollar bottle that we really wanted and a $10-15 dollar bottle that we thought would be adequate. We wanted to use the entire certificate at one time and didn't want to spend a lot out of pocket. There was a minimum shipping charge which was in the $10 range. The shipment arrived with only the $10 dollar bottle and an out-of stock cancellation designation for the other. No attempt was made by the company to find out what we, the customer, wanted to do. 


A phone call to complain took our voicemail message but was never returned. I found no way to contact the company on their website or the invoice/packing list. I even tried to find company information online through other sources. The best I could do was the names of the owners; I then found an address for someone with the same name as one of them and sent a letter with our complaints, which had grown to include communication and customer service by this point. No response was made via any of the contact methods provided, though it might not have been delivered to anyone associated with the company. Not having any way to get our credit, except to spend it, we later did that obtaiing a $20 bottle of wine for another $10 shipping charge.


My research today has confirmed that we cannot have wine shipped directly to us from another state but my aggravation with is more than enough to pursue doing it through them. Frankly, I can't believe they are still in business.


"She did note, however, that this is the first time a winery license has been granted to business that applied for the license in order to run an online retail business in the state."

Why was this one granted? Why have other applications been denied? Is there any conclusion other than Ms. Beck took a bribe?

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