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Why you can't sell your homemade wine.
In our last hub, we talked about some legal issues regarding making wine at home. In this post, we'll focus on why you can't sell you homemade wine.
There is no legal way to sell non-tax-paid wine
You can't sell you homemade wine. Period. End of Story. But, wait, keep reading. There are still answered questions: Can you give your homemade wine as a gift; and what does "sell" mean anyway?
First, you can legally give your wine away. I am pretty certain of that, especially if you actually give it to someone who is in your home at the time. My reason for quibbling has to do with the complex legal issues of taking your wine out of your house. These issues vary depending on where you live. We don't have room to fully cover that topic in this post. But I will try to cover it in a future one.
Second, you can't exchange your homemade wine for something else of value. Imagine the following conversation:
You: "Listen, Jack. I'll five you a bottle of my best wine, if you give me a slab of your barbecued pork ribs."
Jack: "Okay, buddy, that sounds good to me."
If you and Jack actually went through with the exchange, would that be consider a sale. In my view as a layman the answer is yes, it would. Since I am not an attorney, and not qualified to give legal advise, I won't go into my reasoning. If you're curious, Google "consideration" for more information.
Government tax policies shape home winemaking restrictions
In the United States, commercially produced wine is subject to excise taxes. Sometimes these taxes are imposed at all levels: local, state, and federal. Wine made at home is exempt from these taxes. So, governments have enacted measures to ensure that this exemption is not abused. In other word, they want to make sure all the loopholes are closed - tightly.
To see just how tightly, let's examine the following scenario. Let's say you're an amateur winemaker. You make it at home for your own consumption. And, over the years you've accumulated a lot of wine. Say, 1000 gallons. And it's pretty good, so you decide you'll open a commercial winery, You dutifully apply for all the necessary permits and license. You make a substantial investment in commercial winery equipment. Then, one day you're ready to start operations.
The doors to your winery are open, but you have nothing to sell. Wine is not made overnight. It may take years. So, being an enterprising business person, you decide you'll sell those 1000 gallons you have at home. Even if you have to pay the taxes.
Well, you can't. You can't even bring those 1000 gallons into your winery. At least that's what the federal government maintains. Check their website at ttb.gov. No loopholes: you can't sell homemade wine.
Look for our next post soon. It will deal with another thing you can't do with wine you make at home.