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Texas Wineries Ask "What Do Hispanic Wine Drinkers Want?"

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Hispanics represent a growing share of Texas' wine drinking population, but wineries are still grappling with how to pitch their products to them.

"No information is available about the Hispanic wine market," Natalia Kolyesnikova, assistant director of the Texas Wine Marketing Research Institute told attendees at last week's annual meeting of the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association.

The institute last year conducted a preliminary study, convening three focus groups to answer questions about how, when, where and why Hispanic consumers drink wine. The responses were wildly diverse, suggesting wine sellers err in treating the state's Hispanic population as a monolith.

Younger drinkers like Spanish-language labels. ("They took one step further to attract customers like me," a study participant said.) Older drinkers say the language on the label doesn't matter. Spanish-speaking drinkers are interested in wine's health benefits. English speakers don't care.

"Acculturation has to be taken into account," Kolyesnikova says. "They need to be approached differently."

But, Kolyesnikova stresses, more research needs to be done. Her institute is planning to conduct surveys online and in grocery stores.

Major wine companies have already begun marketing to Hispanic drinkers, and Texas wineries are eager to emulate them. According to Kolyesnikova, Hispanics represent 14 percent of the state's wine market, and that number's expected to increase. While only 12 percent of Hispanics consumed domestic table wine in 1998, 22 percent of Hispanics did so in 2003.

"Hispanic adults have been developing a taste for wine," Kolyesnikova told the crowd.

Kolyesnikova says her statistics square with what winery owners have experienced.

"A lot of people came up to me and said just by observing people in their tasting rooms, they do see a change," Kolyesnikova says.

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