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Illinois wineries push to allow more production and self-distribution – Illinois

(The Center Square) – Wineries across Illinois are pushing for a bill in Springfield that would allow them to expand their operations.

Under Illinois law, which is nearly 90 years old, wineries can produce a maximum of 25,000 gallons of wine and distribute only 5,000 gallons.

Jeremy Wombles of the Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Alliance said that while Illinois is one of the most wine-drinking states in the country and the state's wine industry has grown in stature, current law imposes production and sales limits on wineries compared to the beer and spirits sectors .

“What we are planning to do is create a new level of licensing that would allow us to be a wine maker or producer that produces up to 250,000 gallons of wine,” Wombles said.

House Bill 2864 would also allow wineries to self-distribute up to 25,000 gallons of wine.

The IGGVA points out that the law allows the spirits and beer industry to produce and distribute significantly more. The limits for spirits are 50,000 gallons of production and 5,000 gallons for self-distribution, and for beer they are 930,000 gallons of production and 232,500 gallons for self-distribution.

“As we have reached our capacity to self-distribute under current law, we have attempted to use distributors to reach retailers, but our experience has been fraught with difficulty, including not being paid by distributors,” Mark said Wenzel, owner of August Hill Winery in Utica.

The IGGVA said an economic impact study conducted in 2022 highlights the significant contribution of the Illinois wine industry. Specifically, the Illinois wine industry (excluding tourism) produced 1.1 million gallons of wine, contributed $775 million in federal, state and local taxes, and created jobs for more than 60,000 full-time positions in the wine and tourism sector, attracting tourists invited to donate more than $374 million to the state's economy.

“For Illinois wineries, the path to growing our small businesses is to expand our ability to produce more wine and sell more wine ourselves,” said Jim Ewers of Blue Sky Vineyard in Makanda. “Passing HB2864 would not only level the playing field for local wineries, but also ensure fairer distribution practices that benefit both producers and consumers.”

Anna Harden

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