Home > Burdensome Regulations from Ohio Department of Agriculture on Wine

Burdensome Regulations from Ohio Department of Agriculture on Wine

June 15, 2010 at 11:20 am Matt Leave a comment Go to comments

I like how politely the owner of Kinkead Ridge Winery notes that state bureaucrats are morons:

Although no one is disputing the need to ensure quality and safety in food and drink products, a recent push by the Ohio Department of Agriculture to step up its inspections of the state’s wine wholesalers has some local business owners concerned.

Wine producers in the area have been working with state legislators to obtain more information about the inspections and the potential ramifications for southern Ohio’s wine industry, and other small agricultural operations as well.

Prior to this year, inspections for many local wine producers were conducted by the Ohio Department of Liquor Control and the local health department. However, this year the Department of Agriculture is performing sanitation inspections of most wine wholesalers.[...]

With a product like wine, local owners agree that flavor is one of the biggest factors for success.

To Nancy Bentley, an owner of Kinkead Ridge Winery in Ripley, the suggestion that wineries wash their grapes to eliminate insects is just one indication that state inspectors may not have a good idea about how wine is produced.

Bentley points out that it is fairly common knowledge that pathogenic bacteria cannot survive in wine.

“Wine is not a hazardous food product,” Bentley said in a recent e-mail to The News Democrat. “The only hazard to wine would be deliberate adulteration.”

Alcohol is a very effective killer of bacteria, and procedures are put in place to make sure nothing foreign enters the wine before it is bottled, so local vintners say the only real way to make wine dangerous is to intentionally add something to it.

And State Rep. Danny Bubp is not pleased with a state agency which seems intent on unfairly harassing wineries:

State Representative Danny Bubp has been in close contact with numerous wine producers in his district since discussion about inspections began. He has been working to arrange meetings with Department of Agriculture representatives and area wine producers to figure out what the state plans to do next.

Bubp said, as of yet, he is uncertain why the inspections are being pursued now.

“This law has been on the books for years,” he said. “I don’t know why now in 2010 we are having an issue.”

Bubp additionally questioned why Ohio is pursuing increased inspections when large wine producing states like California and Washington do not have the same requirements.

“If they don’t require it out there why would we require them?” he asked in a recent telephone interview. “Why would we want to have more mandates, more red tape from Columbus?”

Wineries, if they were to produce a harmful product, would face serious civil liabilities and therefore have very strong incentives to maintain health standards. And a winery can decide what those standards should be far more efficiently, but instead we have a state bureaucracy making it more expensive to do business in Ohio while increasing the barriers to entry for new wineries.

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  • Nbentley
    Re the Ohio Dept. of Agriculture. Ask Amish farmers what they are doing about milk production and overregulation by Ohio. Ask why Harmony Hill Vineyards in Bethel isn't having their Farmers Market this year. Because ODA is requiring "mechanical refrigeration". So a little farmer with eggs can't bring a cooler with blue ice and their eggs. They need to bring a refrigerator and plug it in somewhere. Ask why the Fizzleville Fair in Adams County, who has made homemade ice cream for 30 years is precluded by ODA from doing that this year. Ask why a local egg producer can't deliver her product to us (for fining wine)... we have to pick it up at her place. It's all ridiculous. Gov. Strickland and company are out of control and just interested in beefing up the bureaucracy.
  • Nbentley
    Very very happy to find you Connie! I have lots more dish on Ohio's bureaucratic grab to beef up the Ohio Dept. of Agriculture's bureaucracy. I hope this story goes national. These inspections are outrageous even though they are supposedly approved by Ohio law (and there are many inconsistencies in the law which Keith Pritchard from Slate Run has pointed out), which the Ohio lawyers keep pointing out to us. Any question we ask is returned with the answer: "We have the authority to do this." So untrained sanitarians on the road, using taxpayer money, no testing of product (so is it really about food safety?). Apparently their database was so out of date they've only recently realized there is a cash grab potential from wineries who wholesale. Wineries that sell retail only? Exempted. I have been in wineries that retail only with dog turds on the floor. Winery wholesale warehouses? Let's follow the money and see if they get inspected.
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