Wineries push to allow minors to tour

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BLOOMER, Wis. (WEAU) -- Wisconsin wineries are lobbying for a bill that allows minors to tour their establishments without a parent present.

The Wisconsin Winery Association's says the bill's goal is to allow wineries the same rights to tours that Wisconsin breweries have had for decades.

The WWA says touring wineries is a great opportunity for kids under 21 to learn about how wine is made, even if they don't get to taste it.

“What we're trying to do is to promote the industry as a whole,” explained owner of O’Neil Creek Winery in Bloomer Joe Wynimko.

The Wisconsin Winery Association says when the brewery tour visitation laws were passed wineries were almost non-existent in Wisconsin. Now there are more than 80 operating wineries in the state.

“Wine industry in the state of Wisconsin has grown by leaps and bounds for the past five to seven years,” said Wynimko.

He says he started with 600 bottles five years ago, now he has more than six thousand.

Right now Wynimko is getting ready to bottle his product for the new season.

He adds all the products used in his wine are made in the state; and kids vising his winery could learn and see a whole lot more than just the alcohol.

“We have a little bit of everything out here; we have nature out there, we have chemistry in here (preparation room), so it goes from one things to the next, it's a variety of a big great classroom,” said Wynimko.

The Wisconsin Winery Association says if kids see something they're interested in for a future profession that's a plus because the growing industry needs employees.

“I think it's important to have an experience approaching alcohol in a more conscious way, something that has some cultural ground,” said mother from Eau Claire Francesca D’abriano.

Parents and grandparents say its okay for kids to visit, as long as no consumption is involved.

“As long as they're not permitted to drink I don't have a problem with that; to me It sounds like an opportunity to learn,” said Gary Marine about letting his grandchildren visit wineries.

Wynimko says his winery checks ID's of all individual who visit.
The Wisconsin Winery Association says under the bill they expect to see adults between 18-20 learning more about wine, but adds, all ages of individuals under 21 are welcomed. Current law says children can't tour a winery without a parent.

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