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Should MN wineries have to use mostly MN grapes? This lawsuit argues no

The law right now requires Minnesota wine to be made with a majority of local ingredients.

Minnesota breweries can use ingredients from any state they want.

But that's no the case for local farm wineries. Minnesota state law requires that 50 percent of the grapes used in Minnesota-made wines are grown locally.

Now two Minnesota wineries hope to change that with a federal lawsuit.

Alexis Bailly Vineyard in Hastings and The Next Chapter Winery in New Prague argue that the Minnesota Farm Wineries Act is unconstitutional. They say it violates their right to engage in interstate and foreign commerce, which is in turn hurting their business, a news release from the Institute of Justice Minnesota says.

The problem is wineries are having trouble getting their hands on enough Minnesota-grown grapes to meet demand. Plus, the grapes that are hardy enough to survive Minnesota's cold climate are often too acidic for many wine drinkers.

So in order to make a wine people want to drink their product, wineries are forced to blend the Minnesota-grown grapes with imported grapes, the release says.

Having to do this limits a winery's ability to expand its business and make the broad variety of wines that consumers are looking for, the lawsuit argues.

The Institute for Justice gives the example of Minnesota's booming craft brewing industry, saying the state's largest breweries are successful partly because they aren't restricted to using at least 50 percent of Minnesota-grown hops – and if they were, a lot of popular beer styles and flavors would be "difficult, if not impossible" to produce.

“Minnesota is hurting farm wineries and wine drinkers to illegally prop up the grape industry,” Meagan Forbes, an attorney with the Institute for Justice in Minnesota, said in the release. "Imagine if other states retaliated against Minnesota's protectionism and banned Minnesota products. ... Minnesota's farm economy would collapse."

The Institute for Justice in Minnesota says it's confident in its lawsuit, which lists Mona Dohman, the commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, as the defendant.

You can read the entire lawsuit here. For more on the issue, click here or check out this editorial Forbes wrote in the Star Tribune.

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