Michigan Lawmakers Make a Welcome Decision for Wine Lovers


For more than 10 years, I’ve made an annual trek to the community of St. Joseph in southwestern Michigan for an concert dubbed “Smooth Jazz at Sunset.”

As I noted in this blog, the South Cliff Inn makes a comfortable and convenient home base not only for the concert and art fair weekend each July, but also for exploring the area’s wineries.

I’ve had only one complaint with the area, and it wasn’t the area’s fault. The fault belonged to Michigan’s state government, which prohibited diners from bringing their own wine to restaurants.

Well, as of March 14, dining out in St. Joseph and throughout Michigan has become much more pleasurable. As this story indicates, “corkage fee” has become part of the language in Michigan restaurants that embrace the concept of allowing customers to bring their own bottles.

Smart restaurateurs will embrace the concept, since it works well in locales that allow it. But not all will.

“Just as it’s the restaurant’s decision to not participate, it’s also the customers’ decision where to go, so there may be some who choose to go elsewhere because the restaurant opts out,” said Sally Jefferson, regional government affairs manager of the Wine Institute, in The Detroit News story. “Customers appreciate having the option and the freedom to bring their favorite wines,” she added.

And that’s really what it’s all about — the long-standing American tradition of freedom of choice.

When I return to St. Joe this July for the 2014 edition of Smooth Jazz at Sunset, I’m going to do some pre-trip research. I’m going to go online in search of local restaurants that allow patrons to bring in their own wine.

I expect that I will not be alone in that pursuit.

Posted in The Wine Business
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