The Michigan Senate has unanimously approved legislation to help promote the state’s agriculture industry by allowing small winemakers to offer wine tastings at farmer’s markets, said Sen. John Proos.
“Winemaking is a thriving industry in Southwest Michigan that employs thousands of residents, and this legislation will allow our local communities to support startup winemakers at the local farmer’s market,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “I have long been a strong supporter of Michigan’s farmer’s markets because they directly connect consumers with local growers and producers. This reform would extend this connection to our local startup winemakers.”
Senate Bills 79 and 279 would enable winemakers who produce up to 5,000 gallons of wine per year to purchase a new farmer’s market permit. The measures would also add small winemakers who hold a farmer’s market permit and are selling their wine at a farmer’s market to the list of individuals who can sell wine at retail.
“Any chance to introduce our wines to a new customer stream that is open-minded about using local products is a win for our whole industry,” said Christian Moersch of Round Barn Winery, Brewery and Distillery in Baroda.
“Southwest Michigan’s position along Lake Michigan and our climate makes the region ideal for producing a wide variety of unique and flavorful wines,” Proos said. “Allowing small-volume area winemakers to reach new customers is about promoting a growing industry and encouraging small business entrepreneurship in Michigan, which is vital to long-term economic growth.”
Under the measures, the fee for an annual farmer’s market permit would be $25 for each farmer’s market location. Each winemaker could purchase one permit for every 1,500 residents of the county in which the winemaker is located.
“Michigan has more than 100 wineries offering a taste of Pure Michigan, and our wine and grape industries also contribute more than $800 million annually to the state’s economy,” Proos said. “Senate passage of these bills follows Michigan Wine Month in April, which highlighted the industry’s contributions and marked the time when wines from last year’s harvest are being bottled and beginning to be available to consumers.”
SBs 79 and 279 have been sent to the Michigan House for consideration.
Editor’s Note – Audio comments by Sen. Proos are available on the senator’s webpage at www.SenatorJohnProos.com. Click on “Podcasts.”