Minnesota Grape Growers Association Cold Climate Conference – Cider: What the Fed?

Sep. 15, 2016

Hop Law presented at the Cold Climate Conference for wineries in colder climates.  It was our first time presenting at this conference and we really enjoyed it.  The topic we presented on was regulations and laws in the cider industry.  States have generally not regulated cider as its own product category, but have either treated it as wine or beer.  It can get confusing because a number of states consider cider a beer and other states consider it a beer.  At least one state even treats it as a beer or a wine, depending on the alcohol by volume of the product – one cidery in that state had to have a winery license and a brewery license.

The federal laws and regulations generally consider it a wine.  But the label requirements differ for cider depending on the alcohol level of the product – below seven percent ABV, the label must comply with FDA regulations that require nutritional information, but if it’s seven percent or above, the label must comply with TTB (Tax and Trade Bureau) label regulations.

The federal government recently revised its tax laws to make it more economical to produce ciders at a wider range of alcohol levels.  It has broadened the definition of “hard cider” to encompass products that would otherwise be treated as still wine or sparkling wine.  “Hard cider” is taxed at roughly 23 cents per gallon.  This is a great deal lower than the wine rate of $1.07 per gallon, or the $3.40 tax on sparkling wine.