HARPERSFIELD TOWNSHIP — Larry Obhof, president of the Ohio Senate, came home to sign a bill in his home county.
Obhof presently represents the Medina area but still comes home to see family and decided to sign the a bill to help small wineries at South River Vineyard on Saturday night.
Gene Siegel, South River Vineyard owner, gave Obhof and other local politicians a tour of the vineyard before Obhof signed House Bill 160. The bill would reduce a level of regulation on small wineries so they will be able to sell pre-packaged food.
State Rep. John Patterson said the bill is important for smaller wineries and he was in favor of the measure that passed on a bi-partisan vote on Wednesday.
"We really appreciate that you took time to sign it here," Siegel said.
He is also the owner of Red River Distillery and discussed hopes for another piece of legislation to allow his spirits to be shipped outside the area.
Siegel said the bill also allows for four bottles of wine to be purchased instead of just two.
Ashtabula County Commissioners Kathryn Whittington, J.P. Ducro and Casey Kozlowski, Eastern County Court Judge Harold Specht and Ashtabula County Auditor David Thomas were present at the signing. So was Ohio Wine Producers Executive Director Doniella Winchell.
Obhof said the bill will help small wineries and still protect consumers.
"Now I send it to the governor and wait for 10 days," said Obhof, who said he anticipates Gov. Mike DeWine will sign the bill.
Obhof and Winchell were able to chat about old times when the president of the Ohio Senate worked at the Adventure Zone as a teenager, when the Winchell family the owned Geneva-on-the-Lake business.
Local wineries won't have to wait the normal 90 days for the bill to go into effect as it was passed with an "emergency" designation.
"The minute the governor signs it, it will go into effect," Obhof said.