New regulation brings sour grapes
I’ve been in business since 1996 and wineries have been inspected only by the Ohio Division of Liquor Control. As part of a state budget bill, the Department of Agriculture was given authorization to license and inspect wineries as food-processing facilities if they wholesale wine.
The Department of Agriculture is charged with issues of food safety, and it makes sense for it to monitor wineries that produce food that has a possibility of harboring human pathogens. The food-processing codes and requirements go far beyond what is required to safely produce wines.
It’s ridiculous to extend these requirements to wineries that do not produce grape juice. We haven’t found any cases in Ohio in the past of food illness related to wine. Wine kills human pathogens at its low pH and alcohol levels.
Applying bureaucracy, regulations and fees where there is no problem suggests that the underlying purpose of this regulation has nothing to do with food-safety issues and everything to do with political position and revenues for the Department of Agriculture.
As a traditional-style winemaker and winery owner, I want the Food Safety Division of the ODA off my back. Out-of- state wineries that directly wholesale in Ohio are exempt from this regulation, further discriminating against small Ohio wineries.
The Kasich administration so far hasn’t seen fit to remedy this example of burdensome business regulation it promised to eliminate.
Keith Pritchard, Canal Winchester Slate Run Vineyard