People have changed how they get their favorite products from ordering them online to making them themselves. These changing trends have led wine fans to ask the question: it legal to make wine at home?
Craft beer brewers have been doing it for ages, but wine and beer are two very different beverages when it comes to alcohol percentages.
The great news is that it is legal to make wine at home in most cases, but there is a lot more you’ll want to know before you get started.
How much can I make?
Laws vary by each state, but the federal rule is that an adult can make 100 gallons of wine per year. If there are two adults in the house, that number jumps to 200, but it is not cumulative. The maximum a household can produce in a year is 200 gallons.
It is unlikely that authorities will come knocking on your door to measure your wine stash but it is also unlikely that most people will make 200 gallons of wine a year.
Can I share my wine with friends and family?
As long as the person is of legal drinking age, no law prevents you from sharing your homemade wine with family and friends in your own home. It is also permitted to gift them a bottle in person if you choose.
Shipping wine is an entirely different story as it is illegal on a federal level to ship wine across state lines and can get you in a lot of legal trouble, so it’s not worth trying.
This also goes for transporting the wine yourself. If you get caught with homemade wine in your car across state lines you can expect major consequences. If you are shipping within the state, you may have a chance, but you should still follow state guidelines.
On a separate but related note, it is always a good idea to try the wine before sharing it to make sure that it is of shareable quality.
Can I take my wine outside the house?
The legality of bringing homemade wine outside the house depends on the reasoning behind it.
If you plan on drinking it on the sidewalk or out of a bag at a festival, you are subject to local laws and venue rules.
A few legitimate reasons allow you to take even large quantities of your wine outside the house. Organized affairs, exhibitions, and competitions are all legal reasons to transport homemade wine.
Can I sell my wine?
Selling your homemade wine is a whole other ball game.
Alcohol is taxed differently from other products, so a federal excise tax must be paid. This includes selling your wine at any of the above-mentioned events, exhibitions, and competitions.
To legally sell your wine and pay the appropriate taxes, you must register as a bonded wine cellar.
If you are stuck in the middle ground between wanting to sell your wine and not wanting to start a full-on wine operation, you can partner with a local bonded wine cellar and have them make your product. It will save you a lot of time and money to avoid going through all of the licensing and paperwork.
The bottom line
It is legal in all 50 states to make wine at home, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t check all of your state and local laws to cover your bases.
Rules tend to change, and it is only in the last 20 years that all states made home winemaking legal. Alabama and Mississippi only legalized the craft in the past ten years.
It's also important to remember that while at home, wine and beer making is legal in all 50 states, but it is against the law to make or transport more potent distilled liquors.
Making wine at home probably won't save you money, especially in the short-term, since you have to buy all the equipment involved, but it does allow wine enthusiasts to play around with recipes and create truly unique wines that no one else in the world has tried.
Now that you know the legalities of home winemaking, there is nothing to stop you from starting today.
As an assistant D.A. in a small city, Tim always drank whiskey whenever he was out to dinner with clients, until an Italian mobster introduced him to a classic Valpolicella. One mouthful of the latest vintage, round with the flavor of cherries and earth, and he never again allowed friends to order the second-best wine.