Last year, Texas vineyards produced over 1.3 million gallons of wine, with the added advantage of selling directly to the public. Texas distilleries, on the other hand, have not had that luxury to sell to individuals. But something changed last month that now gives these newly aged spirit producers an opportunity to grow.
"We see ourselves as hopefully being the next Saint Arnolds of Houston, except we're going to be producing whiskey instead of beer," said Ryan Baird, co-owner of Yellow Rose distillery.
Baird says he's only been allowed to sell his award-winning whiskey through a distributor. But last month, Texas law changed allowing them to sell to individuals who come by the distillery.
"It's important for consumers to be able to try our products before we actually sell them a bottle. So the new laws changing, consumers can actually come in and try our alcohol," Baird said.
Last month, new laws went into effect that allow local distilleries to sell up to two bottles of their products every 30 days to an individual. It's good news for local rum maker, Kelly Railean.
"It's really a good thing. People want to come down here even more now, now that they know they can purchase here," Railean said.
Just 10 minutes south of the Kemah Boardwalk is where you'll find the Railean rum distillery. Railean tells us her hands were tied in the past because she was not allowed to sell rum enthusiasts who stopped by for tours, but not anymore.
"It's really going to help us educate everyone and get everybody to try our products, that hopefully they try it here, they purchase it here, and when they go back home to El Paso or where ever, they can go to their local liquor store and purchase it there," Railean said.
From tastings at vineyards, to local micro-breweries, the bill passed as SB-905 now gives distilleries a chance to be in the same category.
"I'm putting in a facility that will be twice the size of this building. We should be breaking ground on it late October, early November. Half that building will be the Railean Buccaneer Bar," Railean said.
We're told by distillery owners that they're looking for more change on that two-bottle limit. They're hoping to get that lifted so you'll be able to walk out of a distillery with more bottles of your favorite spirits, just like you're able to when visiting any Texas winery.
Also, both Yellow Rose and Railean tell us they'll be looking to hire more people soon to keep up with sales.
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