Currently, the federal definition of hard cider allows up to 7 percent alcohol by volume before it is taxed at the higher rate of wine, and only a certain level of carbonation before it is taxed at the even higher rate of sparkling wine.

Leahy said his bill would set cider standards at a more realistic level that reflects the preferences of consumers.

“Vermont is closely associated with the booming market for hard cider, and this is a great opportunity to help cider and apple producers in Vermont meet the growing demand from coast to coast,” Leahy said. “Boosting cider production would create new economic opportunities for local cider manufacturers.”

The bill would also allow pears to be part of the manufacturing process.