Recently in Minnesota Wine Law Category

Farm Wineries in Minnesota

Farm Wineries are given a special status in Minnesota because our state wants to promote the fledgling farm winery industry. Through the years, I like to take an informal poll to see how many people in my social sphere know about Minnesota wine...and the answer is: not many. The first response I always get is, "Really? How?" and the second question that always follows is whether it's actually any good. Well, why wouldn't it be? If people chug down all those Two Buck Chucks, they ought to know that Minnesota wine is, of course, just as good.

Farm Wineries are given special status, which means they can:

  • sell their products on Sundays between the hours of 12 noon and 12 midnight;
  • sell via the Internet, up to two cases per customer, as permitted in Minnesota Statutes,
  • section 340A.417;
  • operate a restaurant or other establishment (a change passed in the 2007 session);
  • give free samples to visitors; and
  • import, with special permits issued by the commissioner, additional grapes to add to their
  • crops in an off-year for farm production.

To get the full report from the Minnesota House of Representatives Research Department, click here.

Minnesota Statute 340A.315 Farm Winery License may also be of interest.

It is important to note that this statute will most likely be revisited in the future. Currently, many farm winery owners are concerned about market access if they are only allowed to give samples of their wine at non-profits with a per event liquor permit from their local government unit. This limits the number of people that will be exposed to Minnesota wine.

Wine as Raffle Prizes

We've all been to an event where someone is raffling wine off as a raffle prize. How does this all work? Apparently, the first thing to note is that there are laws and regulations governing raffles. Click here for all the rules.

Non-profit organizations can try to fundraise by having wine as a prize. The exact language of the statute can be found here.

I like participating in organizing events to raise money for charities I believe in so this information is good to know. In a handbook provided by Minnesota's Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division, they note these items:

An organization may award wine, beer, or intoxicating liquors as a raffle prize if:

• funds from the raffle are dedicated to the charitable purposes of the organization;
• the number of raffles or silent auctions at which alcohol is awarded is limited to not more
than six occasions per year; and
• the alcohol may only be raffled to persons who demonstrate that they are 21 years of age or older and do not show signs of obvious intoxication.

The law that allows alcohol prizes at raffles does not authorize on premise consumption of alcohol. So, make sure the winners of your raffle prizes don't turn around and chug down that bottle of wine unless you've already applied for the appropriate licenses.

Boalt has a Wine Law Course...

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I may be wrong, but it seems that Boalt is the only law school that has a wine law course. And I'm very impressed with all the information it covers: Prohibition, 21st Amendment jurisprudence to regulatory systems, wine labeling, appellations of origin, land-use planning and international trade policy. Professor Mendelson teaches this course. His bio is very interesting.

It would be interesting to get a panel started at the University of Minnesota Law School. I don't know who to talk with about this first. Perhaps I can talk to Dean Keyes to get things started. I want it to have a very "Minnesota" focus.

My current vision: I see so many student organizations working on this. I can talk with the Business Law Association as there is a definite business aspect to this. I can also get the Real Estate Law Association involved because there are land-use issues that would be of interest to many students. Also - the potential international trade policies/business issues. How exciting to think of exporting Minnesota wine to China! Also, I want to get the U of M Wine Grape Breeding Program involved. So far, the University of Minnesota has four grape varieties: Frontenac, Frontenac gris, La Crescent, and Marquette. It would be interesting to get them to talk about the research and perhaps get the University of Minnesota general counsel involved to discuss the trademarking/licensing components. Also the large community as well. I am sure the Minnesota Grape Grower's Association would have a lot to add. I would have to look up other types of associations as well - I am sure wine shops, wineries, etc. all have legal issues that I could focus on. I think the overall topic should be about Minnesota's growing wine industry. Also it would be great to promote the wine industry to faculty, staff and students. Not everyone knows how innovative Minnesota wine is...I mean c'mon...this stuff grows in the frost! Cooler than "Ah Bing" cherries. I can also bring in the people from the Institute of Justice that helped fight for Minnesotans to be able to advertise and order wines online. I am excited...I'm going to e-mail Dean Keyes straight away.

Institute for Justice - Minnesota Chapter

It appears that for a while, wineries could not advertise over the internet or engage in e-commerce, even though liquor stores can do so. Minnesota wineries could only rely on word of mouth and/or other forms of advertising to let people know of the existence of Minnesota wine. This is a bad predicament to be in since consumers are now getting used to and liking the act of buying over the internet. Litigation in Minnesota has led to victory for vintners and consumers to freely conduct their business in due course.

Check this out:
http://www.ij.org/first_amendment/mn_wine_speech/index.html

Also contains some good background on the Minnesota Wine Industry and other related information.

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