LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The state Senate unanimously approved legislation Tuesday that would allow small winemakers to get permits to offer tastings and sell wine at farmers markets around Michigan.
The bills sponsored by state Sen. Goeff Hansen, R-Hart, 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, The Detroit Free Press reported (http://on.freep.com/16Qxwhc ). The legislation was sent to the House for its consideration.
"This will further promote one of Michigan's leading industries," Hansen said. "And Michigan's farmers markets exist to connect state residents to farmers' foods."
The bills require 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.
"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 excited 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 all the wineries should be included in the bill.
"It's a good idea to get more wines out to the marketplace, but they shouldn't have the limits," he said.
Senate Bills 79 and 279: http://1.usa.gov/ZMS9qK
Information from: Detroit Free Press, http://www.freep.com