New Michigan law may benefit state wineries

Mar 15, 2014

Michigan diners can start bringing their own bottles of wine to restaurants.

A new corkage law went into effect on Friday.   It says restaurants with liquor licenses can permit outside bottles of wine and charge a corking fee to serve them.

State representative Jim Stamas sponsored the bill.   He says the law will promote Michigan's wine industry.

“By opening up the market so that restaurants or bars, whether they are able to carry the Michigan brands or not, will now, I'm hoping, will permit them to carry, to bring them in and enjoy and continue to complement our state,” says Stamas.

Restaurants must have a liquor license and can charge a corking fee for service, says Stamas.  Diners can bring non-Michigan wine too, provided it is sealed and from a licensed distributor.

Kristin Jonna says her restaurants will gladly participate.   Vinology in Ann Arbor and The Bird and The Bread in Birmingham will allow two bottles per table and charge a $20 corking fee.

“It will just go on as a service charge. Our servers will still have an opportunity to make a gratuity on the amount that we've designated from the corkage, and we'll kind of go from there,” says Jonna, “I can't lose too much revenue, but I'd love the opportunity to do this as a service for people.”

Jonna says she expects other restaurants will participate, so long as diners use the law to bring in wines not on the menu rather than as a way to get around restaurant wine prices.