Lawsuit challenges locally grown mandate in Minnesota wine


The Institute for Justice, joined by Alexis Bailly Vineyards of Hastings, and Next Chapter Winery of New Prague, announced yesterday a lawsuit that will challenge the language of Minnesota’s statutes for farm winery licenses.

Currently, the statute mandates that Minnesota wineries must use a majority of Minnesota-grown grapes in their yearly winemaking output. The lawsuit contends that other alcohol producers in Minnesota are not bound to such geographic restrictions, and by limiting their access to raw ingredients, local wineries are receiving unequal treatment under the Interstate Commerce and Import-Export protections in the U.S. Constitution.

(Video, above: The press conference announcing the lawsuit, March 28, 2017, in Minneapolis.)

Minnesota is in the process of developing wine grapes that can thrive in its cold climate. To make its wines more palatable and recognizable in the interim, winemakers regularly blend in juice from Washington, California, and New York, to create a hybrid finished product. Under current law, this supplemental juice cannot exceed 49% of farm winery licensees’ total output. The law suit is challenging that threshold, saying it unfairly limits their potential business growth and ability produce the quantity and types of wines they’d like to.

(Video, above: The Institute for Justice explains the suit.)

The Institute of Justice is no stranger to interstate wine laws. In 2005, they litigated Granholm v. Heald before the U.S. Supreme Court, emerging victorious. The high court’s decision found it unconstitutional for states to discriminate against out-of-state wineries in the business of selling wine directly by mail to consumers.


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