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November 1, 2014

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Reno lawmaker wants state to lift ban on sale of wine made in Clark, Washoe counties

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Cathleen Allison / AP

Nevada Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey, R-Reno, left, talks with lobbyist Rocky Finseth at the Legislative Building Carson City on Tuesday, May 7, 2013.

Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey, R-Reno, said he would introduce legislation in the 2015 Legislature to make and sell wine in Washoe and Clark counties.

Current Nevada law bans the sale of wine made in counties with more than 100,000 residents, which means Washoe and Clark, the state's two urban centers.

“Wine is a $36 billion industry in the U.S., and it has grown every year for the last 21 years,” said Dennis Eckmeyer, president of the Nevada Wine Coalition, who has been growing grapes and making wine for six years. “We have the climate to grow grapes and produce a variety of fine wines. It just makes sense to eliminate this barrier to a new industry that will diversity our economy, create jobs, and bring in tax revenue.”

Apparently, Northern Nevada is a good place to grow grapes and make wine.

“Northern Nevada’s climate is similar to eastern Washington State, which has over 350 grape growers and 800 wineries,” said Daniel Hooper a grad student of the U. of Nevada, who has been researching the wine grape growing in Northern Nevada. “They have an $8.6 billion wine industry there, and I think Northern Nevada can produce wines that can compete with that region.”

Hickey said his bill would help diversify the local economy.

“Many western states have had tremendous economic success growing grapes and making wine, and I think it’s time Nevada joined this growing industry to help diversify our economy in Washoe and throughout the state,” said Hickey.

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