Get a plate of cheese and crackers ready and raise your glass – wine is coming.
After months of anticipation, Texas Wine Works has accepted an incentive package from the Brownfield Industrial Development Corporation and is on its way to town.
TCWW provides services to the Texas wine industry such as grape crushing and wine processing, incubating and storage.
They plan to open a 10-14,000-square-foot processing facility in the Industrial Park. Guided by research that indicates recently-harvested grapes make the highest-quality wines – selected Terry County partly based on its prevalent grape industry.
TCWW President Mike Sipowicz told the News he was looking forward to being in Brownfield, and hopes to begin construction on the facility within the next 60 days and for it to be operational for wine production by the end of January.
“We’re very excited to get started,” he said. “There’s definitely a need for a custom wine-processing facility and vineyard-managing services.”
TCWW was recently formed and the Brownfield location will serve as its headquarters. Sipowicz and the rest of his management team have background in business, horticulture and wine and food processing.
Rather than produce their own wines, they will provide processing and bottling services for other companies.
Sipowicz said about 20 possible clients have so far expressed interest in the new facility, and he is in various stages of contract with several of them. That prospective client list includes both already-established wineries and those new in the field.
“It’s a multi-faceted processing facility that’s going to be a half-step in a lot of different situations in the wine industry,” Sipowicz said. “We’ll be able to help start wineries enter into the wine business without all of the large capital outlay – they could use our facilities. Offering those services to existing facilities prolongs any need for expansion because we can custom-produce any product on their behalf.”
TCWW’s formal announcement of moving to town came as somewhat of a relief after months of discussion. Director of Economic Development David Partlow told the News that – especially after the delay – he was happy to welcome them to town and for the chance to help promote the local wine industry.
“We are pleased that Texas Custom Wine Works has chosen Brownfield as their place to set up their operations,” he said. “We have felt from the time we started working with them in late February that they would be very successful here since Terry County is the epicenter of the wine growing industry in Texas.”
And vino is only one side of TCWW’s business model. Sipowicz said they will also provide services for grape extraction and production of grapeseed oil, juice and other alternatives. They are in the final stages of negotiations with the retail beverage company Nature de Phoenice to contract a juice processing and bottling line that would expand the facility by about 5,000 square feet and bring an additional six to eight jobs to those already planned.
TCWW will purchase 10 acres of land in the Industrial Park from BIDCorp. for $35,000, divided into $7,000 annual payments for five years.
BIDCorp.’s incentive package requires TCWW to remain open five years and have 12 full-time employees to receive the offer. Sipowicz said those jobs will include vineyard management, wine and fruit processing and grape crushing, among others. Most will require training.
If the company meets those operational goals, BIDCorp. will pay $1,000 per month toward the cost of the processing facility for five years, and reimburse them up to $15,000 for the cost of their lateral line from city main line to their building. They will also reimburse 50 percent of their property tax each of the first five years they are in operation, to be capped at $10,000 per year.
The total value of the five-year incentive package is $160,000.
“The incentives are performance-based, meaning they must earn them before we pay out on them,” Partlow said. “Each incentive, with the exception of the land, has restrictions on it to ensure that we use taxpayer’s money wisely. We are obligated to use our citizens’ tax dollars as efficiently as possible to bring good, honest businesses to our community to provide core jobs.”
BIDCorp.’s board of directors approved the incentive package Monday with a 4-0 vote. Sipowicz informed Partlow on Wednesday evening that his management team had made a unanimous decision earlier that day to accept the offer.
Partlow applied on multiple occasions for financial assistance through the Texas Capital Fund to help recruit them, but was each time turned down in favor of larger projects from other cities in the Lone Star State. While Partlow said he has not given up pursuing TCF for future ventures, TCWW found private investors for their new Brownfield locale.
Meanwhile, Partlow and BIDCorp.’s board of directors are looking forward to helping the new wine-processing company expand their operations, and to the domino effect of growth in the agriculture industry it will hopefully create.
“We anticipate quite a few spin-off ag-related businesses to come along with them as their operations grow,” Partlow said. “We are looking forward to a long and fruitful relationship with them.”
(Courtesy of the Brownfield News)