MEDFORD, Ore. – Local wineries are speaking out about a Senate bill making its way through the Oregon state capitol right now. Grape growers and winemakers, we spoke with today are upset about Senate Bill 111. It’s already gone through four versions. However, they say with the rules it proposes, it would hurt their chances of earning a profit in the long run because the rules are so strict.
According to winemakers we spoke to, the main part of the bill changes the way grapes are taxed as they’re imported to the state, which they’re on board with. But they say some of the provisions in the latest version of the bill increase the barriers to export grapes to other states.
“One, in particular, that got me was that if you were an out of state winery, and you had any misrepresentation or any problems labeling your wine, going back three years, you could be subject to fines or revoking of your license,” Grestoni Vineyards Owner, Angelo Grestoni said.
The Oregon Winegrowers Association secretary says he did not personally support this bill, but it is fully supported by the Association. However, he does think the advantages of the bill outweigh the issues.
“There’s a lot of people whose business plans depend on being able to sell their fruit to wherever and there’s more fruit grown here than can be made into wine here in Oregon,” Oregon Winegrower Association secretary, John Pratt said. “The out of state markets are extremely important.”
The bill also sets out rules related to wine labeling. Pratt says the labeling issue stems from an issue with a California winery, Copper Cane, back in 2018.
The bill is supported by the Oregon Winegrowers Association. In their testimony, they said the bill would more fairly tax grapes and better enforce state labeling laws.