PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — James Davids and Marissa Stashenko moved from California to Rhode Island back in 2018 “in search of a more fulfilling lifestyle.”

The two winemakers settled in East Providence, where they opened their own craft winery.

“We instantly fell in love with Rhode Island and the quality of life here,” Stashenko said. “We started our business and were really excited to share our craft with our new community.”

But a Rhode Island law has made it difficult for their small business from taking off.

Anchor and Hope collaborates with family farms in Germany, California, Oregon, Rhode Island and New York to grow grapes for their wines.

Rhode Island law currently prohibits the winery from selling their products on site. The law specifies that wineries can only sell their products onsite if the fruit used to make it was grown in state.

Sen. Valarie Lawson and Rep. Katherine Kazarian are looking to change that.

“We should be doing everything we can to support small businesses,” Lawson said. “This may seem like a small change, but for these businesses, and for our community, it will have a big impact. Customers should be able to come see the wine being made and share a glass with the winemakers.”

Lawson and Kazarian have introduced legislation that will allow wineries to sell up to three five-ounce glasses and three 750-ml bottles per customer per day on site, regardless of where their fruit originates from.

“As craft breweries and craft distilleries grew, we modified the law to allow them to have tasting rooms and sell their product onsite,” Kazarian said. “It’s time to do the same thing for our small, local winemakers.”

Stashenko said the legislation, if passed, would help their expand their business and offerings.

“We’re just asking to be treated the same as the breweries and distilleries,” Stashenko said. “How great would it be for our community if our neighbors could have a glass of wine with friends right here at their local winery?”

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