Wineries and breweries in Wisconsin can sell directly to visitors. For small operations that face challenges in breaking the strangle hold that larger producers have on the distribution system, sales to tourists can make the difference between earning a profit and going out of business. Small distillers in the state would like to get the legal right to sell direct.
The Wisconsin Wine and Spirit Institute and Mothers Against Drunk Driving have joined forces to block the move.
There is just one distillery in Wisconsin at the moment, but several wineries and fruit growers would like to set up stills to produce brandy and sell it in their tasting rooms. State Rep. Samantha Kerkman sponsored legislation last year to allow samplings and direct sales of spirits at distilleries. After receiving approval in committee, the bill was held hostage in the Rules Committee and never made it before the legislature for a vote. Rep. Kerkman plans to reintroduce the bill during the 2007 session.