Wisconsin winery owners voice support for new proposed bill that - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Wisconsin winery owners voice support for new proposed bill that would extend winery sales until Midnight

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MADISON (WKOW) -- A new proposed bill could help Wisconsin's wineries stay competitive by allowing them to continue selling until Midnight.

The proposed bill would extend the closing hours for retail sales by wineries from 9 p.m. to midnight.

Wisconsin Winery Association President Alwyn Fitzgerald says the bill is vital for many wineries to continue to stay open for business.

"We're the only alcohol beverage segment in the marketplace out there when it's on site consumption that has to close our doors at 9 o'clock and it's just absolutely killing our industry," said Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald is also the owner of Fisher King Winery in Verona, he mentions many wineries across the state are struggling to bring in big business by hosting large gatherings such as weddings or corporate events.

"There are people who will come to us and they want to host an event there or a wedding reception or a birthday party...but as soon as you tell them at 9 o'clock, 'we have to kick you out, close out the barrel, you're gone', that's a deal killer for so many people," Fitzgerald said.

Dozens of winery owners testified at a Senate committee hearing Wednesday to try and convince lawmakers to vote for the proposed bill.

State Senator Kathleen Vinehout, D-Alma, is a co-signer of the bill.

"The change in consumer taste and looking for alternative venues for events especially wedding receptions is partly what's driving this bill," said Vinehout, who has received many calls from winery owners in her district about struggling sales.

Fitzgerald says growing the retail side of their business is important to offset high manufacturing costs that continue to hurt the wine industry. If the bill is not passed, he worries many wineries could go under.

"This business to really take off and not be really fettered we need to have some changes in the law," said Fitzgerald. "It's just going to be needed cause it's so archaic."

The bill currently has bi-partisan support from 14 state senators and 23 state representatives. 

The Tavern League of Wisconsin was the only one who voiced their opinion against the bill during Wednesday's hearing. 

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