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Local businesses react to liquor proposal

Wine tasting at Captain's Walk Winery in Green Bay, August 4, 2017. (WLUK)

GREEN BAY (WLUK) -- On a typical Friday night, the tasting room at Captain's Walk Winery is full.

"We're a thriving business, wineries are becoming increasingly popular," said PJ Koehler of Captain's Walk Winery.

Despite popularity, under current state law, wineries have to close by 9:00 p.m. Under this proposal, they could continue to pour until 2:00 a.m.

"Being open a little later until 10:00 p.m. or 11:00 p.m. would be long enough to extend those hours to some of our clients," Koehler said.

For Captain's Walk, the added window of time could allow it to host more special events.

"I would say maybe about three or four dozen weddings approach us annually. We try to squeeze them in when doable, when feasible, but definitely the 9 o'clock time to cease operations gets in the way of hosting them," Koehler said.

The bill also loosens restrictions on breweries and brewpubs.

"Our customers love our beer so we want to be able to more and more beer for them," said Gregg Mattek of Copper State Brewery.

Under current law, brewpubs can only produce 10,000 barrels of beer. Under this bill, they could produce 20,000 barrels.

"We'd be able to do between 7,500 and 15,000 out this location," Mattek said.

Right now Copper State is on track to brew 1,500 barrels of beer this year. This bill would allow them to expand their business in the future.

"Right now we are limited to the number of what they call retail locations, for us that would be another pub somewhere, another taproom, maybe down in Appleton," Mattek said.

Distilleries would also benefit. The Green Bay Distillery says right now people can't sample the spirits, so its spirits are distilled off site.

"This would bring a new level to it, to be able to come in, do a little sampling, try the product out before you would buy it," said Mike McNerney of Green Bay Distillery.

The proposal comes after legislation surfaced in June, which called for stricter guidelines for breweries and wineries, making them sell their products through distributors, although that legislation's hasn't moved forward.

The bill is in the early stages.

It's unclear when or if it would be taken up by the state legislature.


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