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Utah approves winery in town with polygamous sect

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 27, 2014 at 9:30 pm •  Published: August 27, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A town on the Utah-Arizona border largely controlled by Warren Jeffs' polygamous sect moved closer to opening its first commercial winery, a new venture and a signal of yet another lifestyle choice that separates the sect from mainstream Mormon teachings.

State liquor authorities say the owners of Vintage Reserve Estates plan to make red and rosé wines with grapes purchased out of state and sell it through Utah's state-owned liquor stores.

Abe Kader, a state inspector, said three of the five owners are from Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona. The twin border towns are populated largely by members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, a radical offshoot of mainstream Mormonism whose members believe polygamy brings exaltation in heaven. The mainstream church strictly prohibits the practice.

The winery owners didn't return phone calls Wednesday. An employee for a state-controlled trust that holds most of the land in the area, Isaac Wyler, said the registered Hildale address for the company appears to be on property controlled by the sect.

Members of the mainstream Mormon church generally eschew alcohol and caffeinated beverages like coffee and tea. Polygamists, on the other hand, often drink alcohol and coffee.

Historian Ken Driggs said the roots of the sect go back to the 1920s, when a church president began cracking down on both alcohol use and polygamy. Many people in plural marriages were excommunicated and kept both their polygamous lifestyle and more lax attitudes toward alcohol, coffee and tea.

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