Vermont Wine Industry Update

By Daniel Barlow, Vermont Press Bureau
Published: April 24, 2009

Vermont House lawmakers on Thursday gave preliminary approval to a bill that would expand wine tastings at select locations across the state. The wine tasting bill allows wineries to begin selling wine by the glass at events at their vineyards and conduct tastings at local farmer’s markets. Vermont’s law in place now would require a licensed bartender to pour the drinks.

“In addition to help businesses like ours, this will also really help tourism in general here in Vermont,” said Gail Albert, who owns Shelburne Vineyard and is the president of the Vermont Grape and Wine Council. “Wineries are a growing tourist destination and when they visit us, they also shop at local stores and eat at local restaurants.”

Not a single House member spoke out against the bill during a brief floor debate Thursday afternoon. Rep. Joseph Baker, R-West Rutland, urged his fellow lawmakers to support the bill, saying it will help this growing sector of the state’s economy.

Even the Vermont Department of Liquor Control is on board with the bill. Commissioner Michael Hogan said the bill gives more flexibility for Vermonters who make their own wine and other alcoholic beverages that fall under the “spirits” category.

“This bill essentially puts the wineries on equal footing with the beer brewers,” he said.

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