EDITORIAL: The grapes of math

This newspaper has long advocated a single, simple bill to greatly expand personal and economic freedom in Nevada: For every bill passed by lawmakers and signed into law by the governor, two laws must be repealed.

Regardless of whether that legislation ever gets a sponsor or a hearing, we have a law that’s ripe for repeal: the state’s restrictions on wineries.

As reported this month by the Review-Journal’s Sean Whaley, state law currently prohibits the sales of wine produced “on premise” in counties with more than 100,000 residents — meaning Clark and Washoe. Thus, a growing multibillion-dollar industry is limited to rural counties and banned from the areas that drive Nevada’s economy.

Reno resident Dennis Eckmeyer, president of the Nevada Wine Coalition, said the group would lobby the 2015 Legislature to remove the law’s population cap so wineries can grow grapes, make wine and sell it in on-site tasting rooms anywhere in the state.

“Northern Nevada’s climate is similar to eastern Washington state, which has over 350 grape growers and 800 wineries,” said Daniel Hooper, another member of the coalition. “They have an $8.6 billion wine industry there, and I think Northern Nevada can produce wines that can compete with that region.”

Having a state law that keeps such an industry out makes no sense when Nevada is finally making slow progress toward economic diversification. Changing or repealing this law will require the support of Southern Nevada’s lawmakers. They should raise a glass and make it so.

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