Legislation could help Illinois wineries grow

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CENTRAL ILLINOIS, Ill. (WMBD) — Limitations are causing setbacks for wineries in Illinois.

"Our vineyard should be able to produce up to 7,000 gallons a year and the state only allows us to self-distribute 5,000," said Tres Rojas Owner Bob Barry.

The proposed legislation, sponsored by Senator Rachelle Crowe, is hoping to change that.

Senate bill 2976 would increase the number of product wineries that can self-distribute without going to a wholesaler.

Bob Barry, the owner of Tres Rojas in Washington, said the bill would also decrease license fees.

"Last year, some legislation changed our license, and it went from $750 to $1,200 dollars," said Barry.

Diane Hahn, the owner of Mackinaw Valley Vineyard, said it was an unexpected increase.

"Coming off covid when we all took a real deep dive with our businesses, you know being off normal sales and that kind of thing, here we were now getting a 60% increase for no reason that we could even guess," said Hahn.

Hahn said when looking at breweries and distilleries in Illinois, their cut-offs aren’t the same, and they should be.

"They can manufacture 925,000 gallons more than we can before they have to go to a distributor. That’s kind of the main push of that bill, is to get that discrepancy kind of fixed," said Hahn.

Hahn said it’s only fair, and she hopes to see some change.

"We will make more money we will have more jobs, the state will get more money from tax dollars or more people in payrolls. Let’s get things done, let’s grow this state and have a positive thing going on here in Illinois," said Hahn.

According to a 2019 economic impact report by the Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Alliance, the Illinois wine industry paid $878 million in federal, state, and local taxes. It also employed 52,000 full-time jobs. It entertained more than 278,000 tourists.

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March 20, 2022 at 08:46PM

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