Packaging law seen as boost for Colorado wine industry

Colorado wineries are allowed to bottle, can or keg wine from other wineries under a new state packaging law expected to foster growth in the wine industry.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed the law during a ceremony at the Infinite Monkey Theorem Winery, a Denver-based operation that cans and kegs wines in Colorado. Ben Parsons, owner of the winery, pushed for the changes.

To thank him for his support, Hickenlooper was presented with a wine tap and wine keg.

“We are thrilled with the efforts of our board member, Ben Parsons, to push for this new law,” said Cassidee Shull, executive director of the Colorado Association for Viticulture & Enology, a trade group for grape growers and wineries.

“The freedom this allows for our wineries to package and ship wine in kegs will really change the way we do business,” Shull said. “We are also pretty excited that there will now be Colorado wine on tap at the governor’s mansion.”

Sponsored by State Rep. Angela Williams, D-Denver, and State Sen. Cheri Jahn, D-Wheat Ridge, the law enables Colorado wineries to bottle, box or can products from other wineries, including out-of-state producers, before local or regional distribution.

“This law is a great example of how the state can help businesses thrive, “Jahn said. “Unnecessary red tape kept wineries and wine distributors from expanding their services and cutting industry manufacturing costs. So we popped the cork, so to speak, and allowed these Colorado companies to can, bottle and keg wine.”

“Specifically, the law created a wine packaging permit that allows a licensed winery to package wine manufactured by another winery. The permit also allows a wine wholesaler to package wine. After packaging, the wine must be returned to the original winery, or to the original winery’s licensed wholesaler. The packaging winery cannot sell or distribute the packaged wine to a licensed retailer or directly to a consumer,” Jahn said.

The Infinite Monkey Theorem has been one of the most aggressive wineries in Colorado in packaging its wines in kegs, cans and other unique enclosures. 

Parsons said he expects the new law to add jobs in the wine industry. He said he’s already  planning on hiring 10 new employees to help grow the packaging side of his business.