This Market Might Be The Best Thing That's Ever Happened to Somerville

Swirl, sip, repeat. Photo via ThinkStock.

Great news for Somervillians: The “Swirl and Slice” market is planned for Thursday evenings this summer, starting June 14. The Union Square shindig will feature wine and other locally made gourmet products, jazz music, and educational programs.

It’s certainly a win for residents and the restaurants around the plaza, but it’s also a win for the wineries, who just earned the right to sell bottles at farmers’ markets last year. According to a recent report from the state’s Department of Agricultural Resources and the Farm Wineries and Growers Association, wineries sold 34,280 bottles — valued at approximately $514,200 — at farmers’ markets in 2011. The wine makers also reported an average 66 percent (!) increase in overall sales, and 35 percent of respondents plan to expand production.

So where’s the love for craft breweries? (I prefer my heirloom tomatoes with a side of Pretty Things, thank you very much.) The Mass Market blog states that a proposal allowing beer and spirits sales at markets didn’t survive the final bill that was signed into law by Gov. Deval Patrick. Author Jon Chesto concludes:

The success that wineries enjoyed last year represents a perfect argument for why the Legislature should reconsider its decision to not allow brewers at the markets. Sometimes, simply getting government out of the way is the best kind of government assistance an industry can receive.

Perhaps a bill allowing breweries to peddle at markets passed by the New Hampshire House and on its way to the Senate next week will act as legislative peer pressure? Here’s hoping.