How do you define winery? If you said, “a business that produces and sells wines,” you would be partially correct. That’s because selling imported wines could change a business from a winery to a wine bar, even if the business also is selling products made on site with its own grapes.
On June 24, the St. Charles County Council took up the issue of defining what local wineries can and cannot sell on site.
The legislation, officially Bill No. 4735, was billed as a consumer protection regulation and, in accordance with the Missouri Commercial Code, seeks to define a winery as a wine-making establishment and clarify that advertising an establishment as a “winery” when it is not involved in the making of wine is misleading to the public as a misrepresentation or concealment of a material fact. Simply put, the bill requires wineries to sell wine produced with grapes grown in their own vineyards, rather than selling imported wine, which would, in the technical sense, change the winery into a wine bar.
Council member Joe Cronin [District 1], who represents the county’s viticultural area primarily in Augusta and farther out on Hwy. 94, received assurance from his fellow members that this bill would permit emergency exemptions if a wine crop were wiped out by natural disasters such as flooding, which seems likely for the coming year.
After the council agreed that such exemptions were permitted in the bill, it passed unanimously.