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Feds Use Suspect Logic Stop Small Wine Business From Experimenting

A small business trying to innovate the wine industry is having its hopes dashed by federal agencies, but it’s not going down without a fight.

Jim Dyke, co-founder of the small premier wine company Mira, began putting wine bottles in the Charleston Harbor as an experiment to see if it improved the wine. Turns out, the results were very promising.

But now the federal government has told Mira its wine is infected with sewage-like materials, even though the government hasn’t inspected the bottles or tested the wine.

“Unfortunately, innovating and challenging conventional wisdom with 12 cases of wine has now attracted the attention and heavy handedness of the federal government,” Dyke told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “For the government to be able to come in and say you cant do something without reasonable cause, that’s frightening.”

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau first contacted Mira about the problem, but then got the Food and Drug Administration involved before banning the company from continuing its experiment. The government said the wine bottles, which were sealed with wax and corks and stored in steel cages, were on the same level as products spilled into the sea during a shipwreck.

“The FDA has advised us that aging wine in a way that bottle seals have contact with sea or ocean waters may render these wines adulterated under the FD&C Act in that they have been held under unsanitary conditions whereby they may have become contaminated with filth or may have been rendered injurious to health (21 U.S.C. § 342(a)(4)),” the TTB said in an announcement Tuesday.

Dyke said the announcement doesn’t mention Mira specifically but is targeted at his company. It effectively bans Mira’s practice. He added that this is not a massive production scheme, just a few bottles underwater for experimentation.

Dyke, who has repeatedly tested his bottles to make sure they weren’t adulterated, said not one of his bottles has been contaminated and neither the FDA or TTB have taken the time to test them.

“It is in no ones interest, especially a small producer of premier Napa Valley wines, to produce a product for the consumer that is adulterated,” Dyke said.

Dyke pointed out that the same water described as sewage is where people fish and children play on the beach and swim.

“And if Charleston Harbor is too dirty for wine bottles with wax seals over the cork shouldn’t folks who eat the shrimp, fish and oysters have concerns?” Dyke told TheDCNF. “How about a swim?

Dyke said what he learns about pressure and motion from the experiment, which effectively made a 2009 bottle taste like a 2007 in only three months, could be applied to how wine is aged on land and revolutionize the industry. But not if the government stops it in its tracks.

Dyke has hired a lawyer and submitted FOIA requests to figure out why this practice is being targeted.

“It’s frightening because we don’t have the resources to have a fight with the FDA and TTB especially when they seem completely uninterested in the details of what we’re doing,” Dyke said.

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