Wine Sales at Michigan Farmers Markets

Frequently Asked Questions
Download the PDF: Wine Sales at Michigan Farmers Markets 5-13-14

Public Act 100 allows the Michigan Liquor Control Commission to issue a special permit to small wine makers for them to be able to offer samples and sell wine at Michigan farmers markets.

The following guidelines were developed through collaboration by the Michigan Farmers Market Association (MIFMA), the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council and the Michigan Liquor Control Commission (MLCC). These questions and answers are intended to encourage compliance with Commission requirements for market managers that wish to partner with wineries.

WHY SHOULD MY FARMERS MARKET PARTNER WITH A SMALL WINE MAKER(S)?

Inviting a qualified small wine maker(s) to join your farmers market can provide shoppers with additional value added products. Many shoppers enjoy having a greater diversity of products available. The partnership also supports the growing wine industry and Michigan’s economy. To learn more: http://www.michiganwines.com.

WHAT DO I NEED TO CONSIDER BEFORE RECRUITING A SMALL WINE MAKER?

As a farmers market manager, you should consider whether wine sampling and sales are a fit for your particular location and vendor mix. If your market is located on church or school property, you will need to discuss potential restrictions associated with alcohol. If your farmers market is located in a park or land managed by your local government, you may need to request a waiver if there are current limitations for alcohol on that property. Your first step is to check with your property owner to identify if alcohol sales are allowed or what steps you need to take for wine to be able to be sold at your farmers market.

Be aware that your local police department will need to sign the application the small wine maker submits to the Michigan Liquor Control Commission. Talk with your local police department about how important wine sales are for your farmers market and how, as a market manager, you are prepared to ensure all regulations are followed. It is important that you are confident your local police department will sign the application prior to investing a substantial amount of time in recruiting a qualified small wine maker.

You will also need to review and update your market policy to ensure it allows for the addition of wine sampling and sales. MIFMA encourages you (but you are not required) to focus on recruiting wineries that make wine with Michigan grown fruit. If you allow wine makers not using Michigan grown fruit, MIFMA encourages you to require the vendor to identify to consumers the origin of the fruit. 

WHAT TYPE OF WINERIES ARE ELIGIBLE?

A qualified small wine maker manufactures or bottles no more than 5,000 gallons of wine in one calendar year at all locations.

Legislation has been introduced to increase the 5,000 gallon threshold and is being monitored by MIFMA.

HOW DO I FIND A QUALIFIED SMALL WINE MAKER?

A list of producers of Michigan wine is available at www.michiganwines.com.  Market managers can contact individual wineries that they are interested in inviting to their market, or contact the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council at (517) 284-5733 for suggestions for wineries of eligible size in your area.

 CAN A QUALIFIED SMALL WINE MAKER REPRESENT AND SELL WINE FOR ANOTHER QUALIFIED SMALL WINE MAKER?

A ‘Qualified Small Wine Maker’ is the business entity that holds the Farmer’s Market Permit and is not always the business/individual that makes the wine.

A person that works for one winery can sell wine for another winery as long as they are certified in accordance with Michigan Liquor Control Commission regulations.

WHAT TYPE OF PERMITTING IS REQUIRED FOR THE SMALL WINE MAKER?

Permits are issued to small winemaker licensees by the Michigan Liquor Control Commission and are active for one calendar year for multiple market days at one market location during the year. Re-application each year is required for small wine makers that wish to sample and sell at farmers markets.

The small wine maker is responsible for securing a Farmer’s Market Permit.  General information, requirements and an application form (Farmer’s Market Permit Application LCC-3020) can be obtained at http://michigan.gov/lara/0,4601,7-154-35299_10570—,00.html.

A permit issued by the Commission is not transferable.

HOW MANY PERMITS CAN BE ISSUED TO A SMALL WINERY FOR PARTICIPATION IN FARMERS MARKETS?

There is no limit to the number of market days each permit can be used by the winery. The limit on permits affects the number of wineries that can hold a permit in each township/county.

The number of permits that can be issued is determined by the population of the area surrounding the farmers market. One permit may be issued for every 1,500 people living in the township/county where the farmers market is located. For example, because the population of Bath Township is 11,000, up to seven permits could be issued for the farmers market held in that township.

DOES PERMITTING ALLOW THE SALE OF CRAFT BEER, HARD CIDER AND SPIRITS?

Public Act 100 permits wine and hard cider samples and sales only. It does not allow for the sale of craft beer or spirits. MIFMA supports the growing interest in and availability of Michigan beers crafted by microbreweries and has provided testimony in support of House Bills 5426 and 5427 that would allow for sales and sampling at farmers markets.  MIFMA will continue to monitor.

WHAT IS MY ROLE AS A MARKET MANAGER?

As a market manager you need to:

  • Determine whether or not small wine sampling and sales is a good fit for your farmers market.
  • Confirm with all market sponsors and partners that they support wine sampling and sales at the market.
  • Sign the Farmer’s Market Permit completed by the small wine maker approving the activities and provide the small wine maker with a map of your farmers market that identifies the designated area they will be assigned.
  • Once the Permit is issued, designate an area (booths, stalls, tables, etc.) specifically for sampling and sales. This is the area that is covered by the small wine maker’s bond and liquor liability.
  • Verify the small wine maker has the requisite insurance to participate.
  • As with all vendors, determine the number of market days the small wine maker will participate and have the small wine maker complete all farmers market paperwork (e.g., farmers market application, vendor contract, etc.) required for participation in your market.

WHAT IS THE ROLE OF SMALL WINE MAKER MARKET VENDORS?

Small wine makers need to:

  •  Obtain approval to vend from the market manager.
  • Secure the permit and required signatures (market manager and police chief or sheriff).
  • Ensure compliance with all Michigan Liquor Control Commission rules and regulations.
  • Ensure winery staff servers have certification in one of the responsible server training programs approved by the Michigan Liquor Control Commission.
  • Ensure sampling limits are adhered to: three (3), two (2) ounce samples per person (equivalent to one glass of wine). 

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