INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
Small wineries in Indiana are lobbying for the chance to sell their products
direct to retailers and restaurants after the number of wine wholesalers in
the state plummeted from hundreds to several dozen.
rules, alcohol producers must use a wholesaler rather than self-distribute.
But small wineries can have trouble attracting wholesalers because of their
size. Small wineries are lobbying lawmakers for access to a micro-wholesaler
permit that would allow them to distribute up to 12,000 gallons of wine
annually, The Indianapolis Business Journal reported.
The permit has been
available for about 12 years, but state law doesn’t allow permit holders to
also own a winery.
“For a lot of
wineries, that’s our primary issue this session,” said Jim Butler, owner of
Bloomington-based Butler Winery and treasurer of the Indiana Winery &
Republican Rep. Ed
Clere of New Albany has introduced legislation that would allow for
businesses to own both a wholesale permit and a winery permit. The move will
help wineries grow, he said.
“I just want
everybody to have more wine,” Clere said. “It’s frustrating because small
producers are finding it increasingly difficult to get their products into
retailers and restaurants.”
Republic National and Southern Glazer’s both oppose the proposed
legislation, said Jim Purucker, the executive director of Wine & Spirits
Wholesalers of Indiana, which represents the distributors.
Purucker said he’s
concerned that larger companies may take advantage of the change and that
the 12,000 cap won’t stay.
“We can’t just say
it’s only 12,000 gallons,” Purucker said. “That limit will just continue to
rise all the time."