September 2009, I ranted about efforts to permit the sale of local wine at farmer's markets. Senator Jamie Eldridge, D-Acton, had been the lead sponsor of a bill that would have permitted wine tastings and sales at farmers' markets. It also included a provision for beer and distilled spirits, though the primary objective was for wine.
I fully supported this idea and am very glad that on August 5, 2010, Governor Deval Patrick signed S2582: An Act Relative to Economic Development Reorganization. This new law allows local wine, though not beer or spirits, to be sold at farmers markets, fairs and festivals. In addition, the local winery can provide, without charge, a tasting of the wine, though each sample cannot exceed one ounce and no person can be given more than five samples.
Any local winery which wishes to participate, must apply for authorization at each particular farmer's market, fair or festival. As the season for farmer's markets is now beginning, you should start seeing local wines offered alongside the fresh garlic scapes and tomatoes. For example, the Stoneham Farmer's Market, which begins on June 14, will host Still River Winery, who will be offering tastes of their Apfel Eis, a delicious apple ice wine. Numerous other farmer's markets have plans to host other local wineries, such as Travessia Urban Winery at the Sandwich Bazaar Farmer's Market. Travessia produces some of the best wines in Massachusetts and it is worth visiting them at the farmer's market.
As many local liquor and wine stores usually don't stock a significant amount of Massachusetts wine (with the exception of a few stores like The Reserve Bin), these farmer's markets will be a great place to experience local wines. There are over 30 licensed wineries in Massachusetts, will more likely opening in the future. As they are all small producers, they can use all of our support. Some of these wineries are producing some excellent wines, and when you go to the farmer's markets, take the opportunity to taste their wines. If you like what you taste, please buy some of their wine and help support a small, local business. It is our patronage which will enable these local wineries to survive.
If you know of any local wineries presenting at Massachusetts farmer's markets, please add them to the comments.