Local Minnesota winemakers react to 51% fruit law ruling

EAST GRAND FORKS, MN – Minnesota law required winemakers to produce their wine with at least 51% of the fruit being from Minnesota since 1985.

It’s a rule it’s opponents, the Alexis Bailly Vineyard in Hastings and Next Chapter Winery in New Prague, say is unconstitutional.

They challenged with a federal lawsuit in 2017.

They won with the judge citing it violates the Interstate Commerce Clause.

The new ruling allows winemakers in Minnesota to import grapes from any state for use in their wine with no restrictions.

However, not all winemakers support the ruling

The Minnesota Grape Growers Association disagreed with the winemakers’ challenge.

Last year, the association said there are more than 90 wineries statewide and the vast majority are fine with the 51 percent rule.

“You want to support the local growers and your local community,” said Matt Halverson.

Matt Halverson is the owner of Grape Mill Vineyard and Winery, a third generation farmer wearing 10 different hats to bring his Minnesota wine to thirsty mouthes all over the state.

“There is challenges, but everyone has to start somewhere. The more we can do to promote our local growers, and support the industry, the better,” said Halverson.

Those challenges include cold weather, deer, raccoons and hungry birds, and harvesting over 2,000 vines of grapes.

Still, he’s never had trouble selling out all of his stock at the end of the season.

“Wine consumers are pretty smart,” said Halverson, “When they come out to our winery, they want to taste something that we’ve grown right here and that we make here.”

While vineyards like Alexis Bailly and winery’s like Next Chapter may be celebrating the victory, and their freedom to use grapes from around the country, for winemakers like Matt, it’s a move away from what makes Minnesota wine so special; being 100% made in Minnesota.

Categories: Agriculture, Business, Community, Local News, Minnesota News