Traverse City Record-Eagle

Business

April 26, 2014

Ag Forum: Leelanau markets and small wineries

TRAVERSE CITY — The recent passage of Public Act 100 allows small wine makers to offer samples and sell wine at Michigan farmers markets.

Because of the number of wineries in Leelanau County alone, the Leelanau Farmers Market Association has embraced PA 100 and is excited to work with small wineries and cideries. The mission of the Leelanau Farmers Market Association is: “to provide locally produced farm and food products for the benefit of the Leelanau Community.”

Wine-cider sampling provides an opportunity for small wineries and cideries to diversify and expand sales. If other farmers markets around the country offer any indication, wine and hard cider sales will also contribute to the overall experience for Leelanau County farmer’s market customers as well.

As with any alcoholic beverage, there are guidelines and eligibility rules that must be followed. Currently only small wine makers that manufacture under 5,000 gallons per year at all locations are eligible to apply for a permit from the Michigan Liquor Control Commission (MLCC). Tasting and sales are limited to an exclusive, clearly marked area and the MLCC application must be signed by the local sheriff and the Farmers Market manager. Applicants must also include a $25 permit fee and a $70 inspection fee in addition to any farmers’ market vendor fees.

The LFMA will review applications on a first-come first-serve basis and will limit the number of wineries at each of the markets. Based on the LFMA mission, those wineries that use grapes or apples grown in the region will have priority. By law only one permit can be issued for each 1,500 of population in the county where a market is located. For more information on the MLCC licensing process, please visit: www.michigan.gov/lcc and look for Farmer’s Market Permit Application (LCC-3020).

For those brewers out there thinking that wineries and cideries get all of the perks, you may not have to wait long to join in the fun. State Reps. Andy Schor (D-Lansing) and Marcia Hovey-Wright, (D –Muskegon) have introduced a bill (HB 5427) that would also allow samples and sales of craft beer from microbrewers.

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