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Turning grapes into more green

Minnesota bill aims to boost the state’s grape and wine industry.

Posted: Mar 9, 2018 8:21 PM

ROCHESTER, Minn. - The bill creates a council of about 15 members that would help award grants for people in the state’s industry. The council would be made up of wine makers, grape growers, representatives from trade associations, and state officials. The grants would be used from money raised by taxes on out-of-state wine.

Dustin Ebert is the owner of Salem Glen Winery in Rochester. He said he is in favor of the bill as it is now, but that could change if the bill changes. He said the biggest boost for the state’s industry is for people to simply choose local.

“Then you’re going to see regional growth,” he said. “Many of the wineries in the state, their focus is, is a local experience and not necessarily mass production.”

He said he wouldn’t like if the bill were importing grapes from other states.

“If it helps to foster local grapes and wines produced with those grapes, then I’m in favor,” he said.

Ebert said he’s had a good experience operating a winery in Minnesota and that the industry can thrive here just as it does in other states.

“We can make world class wines in Minnesota.,” he said. “They have similar challenges everywhere. You have weather conditions. So while we have extreme colds here, they have fires in California. You deal with whatever challenges you have.”

Missouri has a law similar to this bill put in place. The state says their $1.7 billion industry has grown signifcantly because of the law. 

The bill is currently in the Minnesota's House Commerce and Regulatory Reform Committee.

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