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  • Clark for WV

West Virginia should allow its wineries to flourish

ICYMI: An update on the Farm Wineries Bill from the Spiri of Jefferson.

House Bill 5294, the Farm Winery Bill, passed outof the House of Delegates lastweek that I sponsored. The bill would allow West Virginia to better compete with surrounding states for local agri-tourism. 

Current state law prohibits West Virginia wineries from providing on-premises tastings and direct to consumer sales—stifling the ability for local farms and wineries to compete with neighboring states like Virginia. HB 5294, which is co-sponsored with Del. Paul Espinosa (R-Jefferson) and nine other delegates, would change these antiquated laws.

The bill would allow farm wineries to provide samples and sales at fairs and festivals and would allow the wineries to host live music events and festivals on their own property. The bill would also create four classes of farm wineries based on acreage of their land and fermentation volumes in gallons of wine they produce per year.

If it would become a state

law, HB 5294 would be a positive for Jefferson County agriculture and farmland protection. Protecting our local farms is about providing opportunity for farmers and their families to diversify their farm operations. HB 5294 would create an opportunity for West Virginia to attract more visitors and generate revenue for the state from those visitors.  

Neighboring states such as Virginia report $6 billion in annual revenue from the state’s wineries, while West Virginia only shows $501 million in annual revenue. West Virginia currently only has 17 licensed farm wineries in the state, compared with more than 300 in Virginia. 

Based on a legislative fiscal note, the potential economic impact for West Virginia if just 36 wineries open in the state means a $1.7 billion positive impact to our state. Doubling the number of farm wineries would mean a tripled impact for our state’s economy.

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