Ag dept. forms task force to help Louisiana wine industry grow

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - If there's one thing Louisiana is known for, it is food - seafood, rice, beef and other delights - but what some people may not realize there is another segment of agriculture some say has lots of potential to be just as popular in the state and around the country.

Right now, Louisiana boasts seven wineries around the state. In the last few months, a task force was formed by the Department of Agriculture to help the industry grow like it has in some neighboring states. Texas, for instance, has a booming wine industry.

Mac Cazedessus got into the native wine industry in the 1980s. He said back then, he was able to put his muscadine wines in stores around the state to make a profit. However, a 2005 US Supreme Court ruling changed things.

The ruling enforced the three-tier business system, which states companies that make alcohol cannot produce, distribute and sell their own products. According to Cazedesuss, this ruling has forced winemakers like him to go through wholesalers, who don't always sell their product.

The task force is charged with gathering information and data to figure out the best way to promote native wines to people around Louisiana and in turn, grab the attention of those wholesalers.

Commissioner of Agriculture Mike Strain said this process could take some time, as the task force will meet on an as-needed basis. He added he hopes Louisiana wines will soon have the same popularity as Louisiana seafood.

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