AP: Kansas wineries concerned about new state law

9/24/2012

LAWRENCE (AP) — Kansas winery owners are at odds over a new state law that cuts the percentage of Kansas-grown ingredients that wineries around the state are required to have in their products.

LAWRENCE (AP) — Kansas winery owners are at odds over a new state law that cuts the percentage of Kansas-grown ingredients that wineries around the state are required to have in their products.

The new law cuts the amount of Kansas products required in Kansas wine to 30 percent from 60 percent, according to The Lawrence Journal-World. The measure went into effect in May.

The new provision applies to a winery's overall products, rather than each bottle. Under the law it would be acceptable, for example, for a winery to make one type of wine using 100 percent Kansas grapes and two other types with no Kansas grapes.

Supporters of the law say lessening restrictions will promote growth of wineries in the state, regardless of where its ingredients come from.

But established Kansas vineyards fought the legislation. They say fostering rationality is more important than spurring large numbers of new wineries.

"We're trying to build an identity for Kansas wines, and it has to be grown here to do that," said Greg Shipe, owner of Eudora's Davenport Orchard, Vineyard and Winery. About 98 percent of Shipe's grapes come from his vineyard, with the rest purchased from other Kansas growers, he said.

Shipe said allowing Kansas wineries to bottle wine with non-Kansas grapes also could mislead consumers.

"A lot of people that come to farm wineries are expecting the wine to be grown here in Kansas," he said.

Brooke Balderson, owner of Oz Winery in Wamego, which does not have its own vineyard, said the previous 60 percent requirement was "outdated." Oz bottles mostly grapes grown within a couple hours driver of Wamego but also buys out-of-state grapes.

Other Kansas vineyards and wineries say they are either too new or too small to produce enough grapes to bottle their own.

Bob DesRuisseaux, who owns Prairie Fire Winery in Paxico, said he's been buying grapes from other vineyards until his newly planted vines mature. He says he'd like to bottle 100 percent Kansas grapes but they can be hard to find when the weather takes a toll.

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