A crappy vintage: Illegal winery at Alabama sewage plant gets busted

An illegal winery that was operating at a municipal sewage plant in Rainsville, Ala.
An illegal winery was operating at a municipal sewage plant in Rainsville, Ala., sheriff’s deputies say.
(DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office)

An illegal winery operating at a municipal sewage plant in a small Alabama town was busted by sheriff’s deputies, authorities said.

The DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement that it received an anonymous tip Thursday about an alcohol operation at a municipal building in Rainsville, a town of about 5,100 people 100 miles northeast of Birmingham. Investigators then uncovered what they described as a large illegal winery inside the Rainsville Waste Water Treatment Plant.

Photos released by investigators show glass containers, buckets, a fermenting rack and other equipment often used by people who make wine at home.


The sheriff’s office said it seized a lot of illegal alcohol, and arrests are expected.

“I want to thank the mayor for his cooperation and willingness to allow law enforcement to do our job and shut something like this down,” Sheriff Nick Welden said in a statement. “This is definitely one of the biggest operations we’ve seen in our county and possibly our state.”

It’s legal to make limited amounts of wine at home in Alabama, but it’s illegal to have more than 15 gallons of homemade wine or beer at a time. Police photos from the sewage plant show multiple fermenting vessels filled with what appears to be more than 100 gallons of white and red liquid.