Skip to main content

Judge's ruling gives Minnesota wineries more flexibility in the wines they make

The ruling could be a boon for farm wineries and maybe urban wine bars and cideries.

A judge ruled that Minnesota farm wineries can use grapes grown outside of Minnesota, giving local farm wineries more flexibility in the wine they make. 

U.S. District Court Judge Wilhelmina Wright ruled Monday that Minnesota's Farm Wineries Act of 1980 is unconstitutional because it is a barrier to interstate commerce that favors Minnesota's economic interests over those of other states. 

Alexis Bailly Vineyard in Hastings and Next Chapter Winery in New Prague filed a lawsuit against Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington in 2017, claiming the Farm Wineries Act prevented them from producing a variety of wines that consumers want to drink. 

The act required wineries licensed as farm wineries to use a majority (51%) of fruit grown in Minnesota in their products if they wanted to sell directly to the consumer, like in a tasting room. Wine manufacturers who sell their wine to wholesalers and not direct to the consumer don't have this restriction.

This marks a huge win for farm wineries in Minnesota, who are now free to make the wines they want to make, instead of wines determined by what grapes can survive in Minnesota's harsh winters

The ruling, according to Anthony Sanders of Institute for Justice, which represented the plaintiffs in the case, allows farm wineries to purchase their supplies from wherever they want "without that arbitrary distinction."

"When we heard about this law and heard about how wineries are kind of stuck in this rut where they don't have to grow grapes themselves, but they have to get it from inside the state of Minnesota, and that that was inhibiting growth of the wine industry in Minnesota, we thought that it was time to take action," Sanders said. 

Sanders noted that the ruling could be a boon for local farm wineries because it makes it easier to make wines and sell them directly to the consumer.

It could potentially increase the number of other wineries and cideries in the state as well. According to Sanders, there's another winery license in Minnesota – a wine manufacturer license – that has a similar law that requires wine makers and many cider makers that want to sell directly to consumers to use a majority of fruit grown in Minnesota. The judge's ruling does not directly impact these licensees, but the state could choose to ignore these regulations or could face a lawsuit in the future.

Follow Bring Me The News on YouTube

"What that will do is allow for more experimentation in urban markets of say wine bars or cideries similar to what we've seen in breweries in recent years in Minnesota – the explosion of taprooms," Sanders said. "And that is something to really watch because while we could have a growth in farm wineries like our clients, we could also have a big growth in wine bars and cideries in urban enviornemnts, and that's really exciting."

Sanders noted some other states have similar laws as the Farm Wineries Act (Wisconsin and Iowa don't, and they have more wineries than Minnesota does), and he's "hopeful" the ruling in Minnesota will be a "warning to those states that they need to shape up and follow the dictates of the constitution, which protects our right to buy and sell without regard to state boundaries." 

BMTN has reached out to the Department of Public Safety and the Minnesota Grape Growers Association for comment. 

Weather update from Novak Weather

Next Up

Mugshots

11 'urban explorers' face charges after being found in Fridley sewer system

A 911 caller reported seeing a group removing a manhole cover Monday night.

image

Man killed by St. Paul police ID'd by family, community demands answers

The man was identified as 24-year-old Howard Johnson.

Screen Shot 2022-12-07 at 7.38.02 AM

Quick shot of snow to impact morning commute in Twin Cities

Snow is moving into the metro Wednesday morning.

ambulance

Body found in burned out car near Bird Island identified as local farmer

The deceased is a 59-year-old man from rural Bird Island.

Screen Shot 2022-12-06 at 2.47.44 PM

Minneapolis' Khâluna named in Eater's 2022 'Best New Restaurants'

The restaurant, opened in 2021, is known for its Laotian cuisine.

ambulance, crash

3 pedestrians struck by drivers Monday in Minnesota; 2 dead

The victims involved a 39-year-old man and two 74-year-old men.

snow, plow

Shifting storm tracks: Significant storms Friday, next week?

Sven Sundgaard has the details on an interesting forecast.

Life Link

Worker suffers serious injury in rooftop fall in rural Minnesota

The man only fell a few feet, but suffered a serious leg injury.

Walz, Flanagan

Minnesota reports massive projected budget surplus of $17.6 billion

The huge surplus comes as the DFL prepares to assume a trifecta of the Legislature and the Governor's House.

Related

axebridge

Full production winery set to open in Minneapolis this month

The couple behind Schram Vineyards Winery and Brewery is opening AxeBridge Wine Company in Minneapolis' North Loop neighborhood.

Meet Feisty Bitch, the new wine collection from Minnesota

That's not very Minnesota nice... but the wine is.

Pexels - wine waiter restaurant pour

8 MN restaurants earn Wine Spectator's Best of Award of Excellence

These eateries are described as "destinations for serious wine lovers."

dinner-1733171_1280

Four perfect wines to bring home for Thanksgiving

Introducing our new columnist, The Bachelor Farmer's wine director Amy Waller.

Indeed Brewing teamed up with a winery to make a sour beer-wine hybrid

It's a beer. It's a wine. And you won't find it many places.