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Texas ag commissioner asks Gov. Abbott to immediately reopen wineries, wine tasting rooms

Sid Miller says the impact of closing these establishments will have a "devastating effect on the already struggling Texas wine industry."

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller wants Gov. Greg Abbott to immediately reopen the state's wineries and wine tasting rooms.

In a letter sent to the governor on Wednesday, Miller asked Abbott to remove wineries and wine tasting rooms from the definition of bars detailed in his recent executive order, which required all bars to close on June 26.

"I'm sure you will agree that tasting rooms are not bars, nor do they present the same reasons for concern related to excessive alcohol intake or inability to social distance as found in a bar," Miller said.

RELATED: 'We miss our people' | Coronavirus causes Hill Country wineries to lose business

Miller said that the impact of closing wineries and tasting rooms will have a "devastating effect on the already struggling Texas wine industry," saying that nearly 95% of all Texas wine is sold through tasting rooms. Miller also said that the continued closure of wine tasting rooms will have a ripple effect on related businesses.

Commissioner Miller has requested Governor Greg Abbott specifically ... remove Texas wineries and wine tasting rooms from the definition of bars and allow them to reopen immediately. The impact of closing these rooms will have a devastating effect on the Texas wine industry

"Without the income from these tasting rooms, wineries will likely not have sufficient funds to purchase grapes this year and this may cause a dramatic shortage of Texas wines in the near future," Miller said. "The closure of these tasting rooms has a damaging downstream effect on the grape producers, wineries and surrounding communities, wine manufacturers and retail outlets." 

Miller said he understands Abbott must make decisions that balance the needs of the Texas economy and protecting Texans' health, but he is respectfully asking that the governor support the Texas wine industry by allowing the tasting rooms to reopen.

WATCH: Central Texas breweries adjust to new COVID-19 orders

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