LANSING (WWJ/AP) – Legislation moving through Lansing would allow small winemakers to get permits to offer tastings and sell wine at farmers markets around the state.
The bills, which passed unanimously in the Senate on Tuesday and next head to the House, would limit the tastings and sales to winemakers who produce 5,000 gallons of wine a year or less, which trims the list of eligible vineyards to about 60 of the state’s 100-plus winemakers.
It also requires a $25 per market permit fee for the winemaker and the approval of both the market and the local police department. At the farmers market, each person would be limited to three 2-ounce samples of wine.
The bills are sponsored by Republican state Sen. Goeff Hansen, of Hart.
“This will further promote one of Michigan’s leading industries,” Hansen told the Detroit Free Press. “Michigan’s farmers markets exist to connect state residents to farmers’ foods.”
Business owners are excited about the new opportunity, too.
“This would be especially valuable for new wineries just getting started and wanting to establish their brand,” said Linda Jones of the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council, a program within the state Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Deborah Burgdorf, one of the owners and the vintner at Burgdorf Winery in Haslett, is optimistic about the prospect of expanding their customer base.
“Opening up the door for more customers is a plus in any business,” she said. “It would open up a big market for us.”
But her husband, David Burgdorf, said he believes that all the wineries should be included in the bills.
“It’s a good idea to get more wines out to the marketplace, but they shouldn’t have the limits,” he said.
TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.