Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Minnesota wineries sue over grape-import restrictions

Depending upon its outcome, a lawsuit just filed in Minnesota could be good news for New York State grape growers.

A pair of farm wineries, aided by the Institute for Justice, have filed a federal lawsuit in Minneapolis that challenges the state's limitation on using out-of-state grapes to make wine. The owners of the Alexis Bailly Vineyard and Next Chapter Winery argue that the regulation circumvents their constitutional rights to engage in interstate and foreign commerce.

Minnesota requires wineries to use mostly Minnesota-grown grapes in making wine, but wineries point out that the state's climate makes it difficult to grow many varieties of grapes and, therefore, grapes grown in such heavy-producing states as New York, Missouri and elsewhere are needed to provide variety and volume.

They also call the ban discriminatory because Minnesota allows breweries to use out-of-state hops, mostly those grown in the Pacific Northwest, to make their beers. They argue that if Minnesota breweries were forced to mostly use hops grown in Minnesota, many of their popular products would become difficult, if not impossible, for them to offer.

“We’re fighting for our right to run a successful business,” said Nan Bailly, owner of Alexis Bailly Vineyard, which was founded by her father. “We have always carried the flag for Minnesota-grown and Minnesota-made wines, and always will. We have the oldest winery in
Minnesota, and our estate-produced wines are the hallmark of our winery. But, as our business has grown, we cannot produce enough from our vineyard to meet demand. The government is keeping us from making the wines that people are asking for.”

This is not the first time the Institute for Justice has litigated in a wine-related case. In 2005, it won a case in the U.S. Supreme Court that said it was unconstitutional for states to discriminate against out-of-state wineries in the business of selling wine directly by mail to consumers.

• Go here to visit Dowd On Drinks
• Go here to visit Notes On Napkins
• Go here to visit the Capital Region Brew Trail

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