Shutdown creating headaches for local alcohol producers

SHELBURNE, Vt. (WCAX) The federal government shutdown is causing ripples across the country, including for the makers of wine, beer, and spirits across our region.

Monkton resident Theresa Smith and her daughter escaped single-digit temps Friday afternoon to try some wine.

"This is one of my favorite stops when my daughter is in town," Smith said. She likes reds and local wine, and she buys for quality. Mostly. "I must admit, every once in a while I do like a pretty bottle of wine, just to try something new."

Shelburne Vineyards founder Kenneth Albert knows just how important labels are in catching a customer's eye.

"We spend probably more time on our redesign of labels, and more arguments, as a team, then almost anything else. And even serious wine drinkers have to admit, you know, I bought this wine because it had a great label on it," Albert said. He points out a bottle, showing how each has been carefully thought out. "Cayuga White. We're trying to show a casual drinking wine, so that's where the canoe comes in."

But right now he can't change any of them because the government agency that by law has to approve each and every one of them is shut down.

"So there's a little concern there. It doesn't impact our sales today, but it impacts us in the future," Albert said.

Friday morning his team harvested grapes for their ice wine being pressed now. But what's also pressing is a deadline to get a new label for it. The current ones are too transparent and don't work well with their labeling machines. And he's concerned about a booze backlog that might mean their new labels won't be ready when it's time to bottle later this spring.

"The best case scenario is that basically government operations will resume ASAP and whatever backlog gets solved and we get back to a five-day turnaround time," Albert said.

It's not just wineries who are affected. Anyone who makes alcohol is, including brewers. Officials with the Vermont Brewers Association said they have not heard yet from any of their members.