Uncorking Economic Opportunity in Minnesota and Beyond

The Institute for Justice recently filed a lawsuit challenging Minnesota's restrictions on in-state wineries using out-of-state grapes for their wines. IJ's Meagan Forbes explains:

"The U.S. Constitution guarantees free trade among the states, and free trade has been a hallmark of American economic freedom ever since our nation’s founding. Now—more than 200 years later—Minnesota is violating this founding ideal at the expense of local farm wineries by limiting the grapes from other states that Minnesota winemakers can use to make their wines.

I know what you are thinking: wine from Minnesota? How? Most drinkable wines are made from grapes that struggle in the state’s extremely cold and harsh climate. Winemaking grapes grown in the region are a recent and promising phenomenon but they are often too acidic for most wine drinkers. So to make delicious wines, winemakers blend Minnesota-grown grapes with grapes grown elsewhere to create an essentially Minnesotan wine that is also drinkable.

Unfortunately, after opening their wineries, winemakers face a major obstacle to growth: The state bans farm wineries from making their wine with a majority of grapes grown outside Minnesota. This restriction forces farm wineries to buy a majority of their grapes from Minnesota growers, even when these grapes do not suit their winemaking needs. This trade restriction therefore prevents farm wineries from expanding their offerings to the broad variety of wines that their customers want. The law does not apply to the state’s thriving craft breweries that use hops grown in the Pacific Northwest, where the climate is much more suitable than the Upper Midwest. In other words, breweries can decide what is best for their customers, but farm wineries cannot..."

Read the rest here: http://ij.org/ll/june-2017-volume-26-issue-3/uncorking-economic-opportunity-minnesota-beyond/

This is yet another example of using economic liberty litigation to reform protectionist alcohol laws. R Street's Jarrett Dieterle recently authored a policy study on this potential trend: http://www.drinksreform.org/blog-1/2017/6/13/new-alcohol-policy-study-could-economic-liberty-litigation-free-the-booze