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Too Much Government Legislation for the Wine Industry

It’s amazing what local, state and federal governments can do to put a stranglehold on wineries and vineyards. One only needs to look at the federal legislation (H.R. 5034) that was supported by many representatives last year but fortunately the winery industry learned about it in time to stop the legislation. However a very similar bill is up this year, H.R. 1161 and already representatives are supporting it.

While more than 36 states have passed legislation that allows some type of direct wine shipping, that leaves several states where direct wine shipping is not allowed. Unbelievable since wine is a legal product for adults.

In Howard County, Maryland there is legislation that is having a difficult time in securing passage that would allow wineries to operate within the county. Currently every county in Maryland has wineries except Howard County. Meanwhile Howard County is home to one of the largest wine festivals in the state – Wine in the Woods. For myself after visiting hundreds of wineries to write reviews of them, there is nothing better in my opinion than to live next to a winery and vineyard.  Vineyards are a great way to preserve land since they can have thriving vineyards for 80 to 100 years. Winery tasting rooms are delightful places with the vast majority of people realizing that a tasting room is NOT a bar. Tasting rooms allow visitors to come, taste wines and buy wine. Many wineries have some type of activities that are fun. Wineries are also concerned with being good neighbors. In Texas and Virginia there are examples of home communities planned with a vineyard and winery as part of the ambiance. Some areas know the value of the vineyard/winery ambiance.

Some people are worried that a winery tasting room will have drunks leaving and causing tragedies on the roadways. By law tasting room staff are not allowed to serve wine or tastings to anyone who appears to be drinking too much. In fact staffs are trained to know what to look for. I heard one person note that when home parties happen, no one monitors if someone has been drinking more than they should.

In Howard County, a bill that should have passed last year was postponed until this year. It has been debated and debated. A few days ago, it should have been put up for a vote, put it was postponed again. Let’s get that legislation passed and start adding vineyards and wineries.

Cheers! Kathy

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