CHANGE IN MASSACHUSETTS LAW LETS WINERIES SELL WINE AT FARMER’S MARKETS AND AGRICULTURAL EVENTS

The Coastal Wine Trail of South Eastern New England, an appellation of nine wineries located along the New England coastline, holds a kick-off event each year to celebrate the beginning of wine season.  Traditionally, one of the nine wineries hosts the event and sells its wines, while the other wineries provide tastings of their wines without the opportunity to offer them for sale.

This changed in 2010, however, when the Massachusetts legislature passed The Economic Development Act (Senate Bill 2582) (“the Act”).  Under this new law, the local licensing authority can grant an already-authorized farm winery a special license for off-premise consumption at an indoor or outdoor agricultural event.  Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 138, § 15F.  The Department of Agricultural Resources must first certify that the outing is an “agricultural event.”  Upon certification, the local community has its say by way of the Local Licensing Authority, which retains the power to issue the special license and is mandated to consider the public’s opinion of the event and venue selection.

Since this change in law, each of the nine wineries of the Coastal Wine Trail has been able to showcase and sell their wines equally at the annual kick-off event.  In 2011, these agricultural events alone brought in $514,000, increasing sales for each of the nine wineries by an average of 66%.  The enactment of the Act has encouraged more wineries to plan and hold similar agricultural events throughout Massachusetts.

 

CONTRIBUTED BY COURTNEY MCGEE

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