Constitutional Law

Wineries challenge Minnesota cap on use of out-of-state grapes

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Two Minnesota wineries are challenging a Minnesota law that requires their wines to contain more than 50 percent of state-grown grapes.

The Alexis Bailly Vineyard and Next Chapter Winery argue the state’s Farm Wineries Act is an unconstitutional restriction on their ability to use grapes grown outside the state, report the Associated Press and CBS Minnesota.

The suit (PDF) argues the restrictions burden interstate and foreign trade in violation of the commerce clause, the foreign commerce clause and the import-export clause, according to a press release. The wineries are represented by the Institute for Justice.

Meagan Forbes, a lawyer with the Institute for Justice’s Minneosta office, says in a Minneapolis Star Tribune op-ed that craft brewers in the state can import hops from anywhere they please, while wineries are restricted. “This law props up the state’s grape industry at the expense of farm wineries, wine drinkers and our state’s economy,” she wrote.

Wine-making in the state has become more popular with increased availability of grape varieties that can be grown in the cold climate. But grapes grown in the state are not suited for all types of wine-making, she wrote. “Minnesota shouldn’t be boxing farm wineries in with this kind of protectionist law,” Forbes argued.

Typo in penultimate paragraph corrected at 2:35 p.m.

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