Law opens doors for fledgling winemakers

Bob Witham has never been averse to taking a gamble on the future of the wine business.

His Two Rivers Winery and Chateau on the Redlands not only is a state-of-the-art winery, it was the first Colorado winery to offer its guests a conference center and upscale lodging facilities.

Now, Witham is taking advantage of a recent change in state law to become the first state winery to establish an “alternating proprietor licensed premises” agreement.

The agreement, under House Bill 08-1359, allows Witham to share his winery equipment, facilities and employees with other wine manufacturers.

This shared-facilities agreement was supported by the state wine industry and the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board as a way to allow small-production winemakers to enter into the business without investing the tens of thousands of dollars into equipment that, in some cases, stands unused for part of each year.

In this case, Witham is opening the future to his current winemaker Tyrell Lawson, who is developing his own business named Kahil Winery.

“I made the decision to pursue the alternating proprietor license as an employee incentive for Tyrell,” Witham said.

“Tyrell owns his own bonded winery business, and by providing the winemaking infrastructure for his use, he is able to produce wine in a cost-effective way while growing his own brand,” Witham said.

A portion of Two Rivers Winery’s licensed premises is now shared by Kahil Winery and used for making wine.

The shared premises includes crush pads, processing tanks, bottling lines and barrel-storage and casking areas.

“The alternating proprietor licensed premises agreement is a common practice in leading wine-producing states such as California, Oregon and Washington,” said Doug Caskey, executive director of the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board.

“I know House Bill 08-1359 will have a lasting and positive impact on winemakers throughout Colorado, making it easier for new wineries to enter the business and for existing wineries to expand more rapidly,” he said.


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