Monday, September 21, 2009

Rant: Wine at Farmer's Markets?

When will Massachusetts legislators smarten up and start changing antiquated laws restricting wine? We all know the difficulties and prohibitions against shipping wine into Massachusetts. But other restrictive laws exist as well and need to be changed. We need to support one current effort to change such a law.

Senator Jamie Eldridge, D-Acton, is the lead sponsor of a bill that would permit wine tastings and sales at farmers' markets. It also includes provision for beer and distilled spirits, though the primary aim is for wine. The bill has yet to receive a formal hearing. This bill is supported by a group representing Massachusetts wine makers as well as state agriculture officials.

With all of the farmers markets now around, this would open up a larger market for local wines, especially as those who patronize such markets often give much support to local producers. These markets would have to apply for a liquor license and enforce underage drinking laws.

Who opposes this bill? Well, some of the strongest opposition comes from liquor store owners. They allege the law would make it easier for underage teenagers to obtain alcohol. This argument does not really seem to be supported by the evidence. How many Massachusetts wineries, which have tasting rooms, have ever been cited for serving underage teenagers? I very much doubt that has ever been a serious problem.

As most local liquor and wine stores usually don't stock a significant amount of Massachusetts wine, they would not really lose much business if this bill was passed. They should be supporting this bill, helping our local wineries. There are currently 34 licensed wineries in Massachusetts and more will likely start in the future. They are all small producers, and can use all the help they can get in marketing and selling their wine. So give them the ability to sell at farmer's markets.

What are your thoughts?


Couves said...

Did this die? It sounds like it did, at least for Beer. Buzzard's Bay Brewery just went out of business and as part of their reasoning they cited the fact that this bill was "eviscerated."

Last Call For Popular Local Beer:

I'm sure the new double taxation on their product didn't help either (I'm guessing most of their sales are in MA). This is only the start, the idea has been floating around to tax alcohol even more to fund healthcare.

Local wineries, craft brewers, even distillers and cider makers represent a potential growth industry for the state. Not only that, it’s a prestige industry that would benefit tourism, fine dining and attempts to save farmland. Unfortunately, your freedom to do business in this state is increasingly circumscribed by law. And you can’t change those laws if you don’t have the bigger special interest group in your corner.

We now have marriage equality in Massachusetts but some freedoms take longer to reach our fair shores. It’s stuff like this that drove me to the Libertarian Party. Ok, beat that rant ;-)

Richard Auffrey said...

Thanks very much for your input, and I do agree. I am seeking more info about the bill and when I find out more, I'll report back.