Sign our petition and help make more urban wineries possible!

By Jeff on Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

A fellow winemaker and new friend, Emiro Sangiovanni, formerly of Venezuela, now of Fridley, has started a petition to be delivered to legislators in favor of HF 520 and SF 1026, dubbed the “Craft Winery Bill”

I spent an afternoon with Emiro this fall, bottling a batch of white wine made from some of the grapes in his front yard. His wine is fantastic! And it’s also one of the reasons that I don’t plan to make grape wine. There are so many others already doing it better than me!

Like myself, Emiro is an aspiring professional winemaker (and if you didn’t know, cider and mead makers are considered by the government to be winemakers). So he’s as enthusiastic as I am about the possibility of this bill passing, and removing some of the barriers that now exist to starting a winery in an urban, suburban, town, village or otherwise non-rural area of Minnesota.  In Washington, Oregon and New York, it’s becoming more common to see wineries popping up in major cities and boosting wine as an alternative to beer or spirits for those state’s drinkers.

The Farm Winery bill  that passed years ago, and which continues to be added to, gives increasing benefits to wineries located on agricultural land, which has been a very good thing overall.  It has allowed farm wineries to lay the groundwork for a wine industry in a state that was in the past most definitely not known as a wine production mecca.

And Emiro and myself and others want to see that development continue, but everywhere in the state, not just in rural areas.   We’re hoping to build on the success of rural wineries and bring winemaking into the cities, so that visiting a craft winery can become as common an occurrence as visting a craft brewery.

But the imbalance in the law between urban wineries and farm wineries has continued to grow as one is governed by the restrictive post-Prohibition rules, and the other sees loosened regulation almost every legislative session.  That makes it a steeper wall to climb for anyone wishing to make wine outside of farm country.  It’s time for urban winemakers to ask for equal treatment under the law- and that’s what we are doing right now.

The Craft Winery bill takes absolutely nothing away from the Farm Wineries.  The law remains for them exactly as it is now.  We simply request the same treatment.

Please sign the petition here.  It would be a great help.

Cheers and Salud!

Jeff PS- If you’re geeky like me and would actually like to read the bill before signing a petition about it, you can also see that here.