State legislators are considering two bills that would level the playing field for breweries and wineries in Wisconsin.
Under current law, someone can go on a tour of a brewery even if they are too young to legally drink beer -- although if someone is under 21, they can't taste the product. But children can’t tour a winery, unless they’re accompanied by parents.
That would change under a bill that got a hearing in Madison on Tuesday.
Anna Maenner, of the Wisconsin Winery Association, said allowing minors to see how wine is made, even if they don't get to taste it, would benefit the increasing number of local wineries in the state.
“Allowing additional people -- as many as we can offer -- to come and experience the winery experience is going to be a benefit not only to that winery but to the community,” said Maenner. “We are going to see dollars spent at gas stations, we're going to see dollars spent in restaurants and we’re going to see dollars spent on hotel rooms.”
Another bill being considered would remove the current prohibition on offering wine samples at food industry trade fairs. Julie Coquard, of the Winery Association, said the argument for change should be obvious.
“What's important in making a wine is for people to be able to taste it,” said Coquard. “It's really hard to judge a wine just by the bottle and so it's really important for us to be able to give samples to restaurants and stores, people who are interested in carrying our wine.”
The bill doesn't include any limit on the size of samples that will be allowed at trade fairs, but Cloquard said the typical sample is no more than half an ounce.
Both these bills have bipartisan support.