Frequenters of farmers markets may soon be able to imbibe from local wineries’ varieties if a bill that passed the Ohio House of Representatives on Thursday also clears the Senate.

House Bill 178 sponsored by state Rep. Nathan Manning, R-North Ridgeville, will allow the organizers of nonprofit farmers markets to obtain a special F-10 liquor permit to allow up to four wine manufacturers which each produce less than 250,000 gallons of wine annually to sell up to six bottles of wine per household at the market.

Organizers of farmers markets would have to obtain the F-10 permit through the state Division of Liquor Control for $100 to allow wine sales, and the permits would last for nine months out of the year.

The bill would allow those attending the farmers market to buy 1-ounce tasting samples of up to five varieties of wine for consumption on farmers market premises. Wines that are available through wholesale distributors in any state couldn’t be sold at a farmers market.

There are also some stipulations. The market must be a nonprofit, can’t be at rest areas within public right-of-ways of an interstate highway and markets with fewer than five participants can’t sell wine.

Manning said local wineries that want to sell wine at a farmers market are now required to get a special license for every single market and the licenses were only valid for a day or weekend.

“The cost and time required to get the licenses didn’t justify doing it,” Manning said. “This makes it a longer permit and an easier process. It’s less burdensome on small business.”

Lee Klingshirn, president of Klingshirn Winery in Avon Lake, said House Bill 178’s passage would help his bottom line. Klingshirn operates a 10-acre winery that produces about 9,000 gallons of wine annually.

“It would also help wineries with exposure,” Klingshirn said. “Instead of counting on people finding me, I can go out and find new people by going to farmers markets. We’re a farm, we have a product, why shouldn’t we be allowed at a farmers market?”

And Klingshirn said the ability to sell at farmers markets might also allow small wineries such as his to hire extra help during the summer to go to the farmers markets and operate the stands.

Manning said he’s hopeful the bill will pass the Senate, and one day he’d like to see the law open up to the craft beer market so local brewers could sell at farmers markets as well.

“I’d love to see that, but we have to take it one step at a time,” he said. “But we want to see how it works with wine, and maybe beer is something we could look at in the future."

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