Plaintiffs own 63 acres which are leased to a winery. On the property there is a “toolshed parcel” and “warehouse parcel.” The toolshed stores a wine press, wine processing sometimes occurs, and is storage for 40-60 barrels of wine. The space also sometimes serves as an event venue. The warehouse stores empty wine bottles and wine bottles awaiting pickup for distribution.

In 2018, the county auditor determined that the toolshed and warehouse do not qualify as agriculture, and instead should be taxed as commercial property. The plaintiffs appealed this determination to the Board of Revision, who ultimately determined the properties should be taxed as industrial property. The plaintiffs appealed the Board of Revision’s determination to the Board of Tax Appeals. The Board of Tax Appeals affirmed that the property was industrial. The plaintiffs appealed the Board of Tax Appeals, arguing that both parcels should be taxed as agricultural property.

The Ohio Court of Appeals found that both the toolshed and the warehouse were agricultural property. The court, using the definition of agriculture found in Ohio Revised Code § 1.61, found that the primary use of both facilities was agricultural. Although the regulations defining agriculture for property taxation does not include the storage of wine, the statute trumps the administrative code’s definition of agriculture. Since Ohio Revised Code § 1.61 specifically states that “viticulture, winemaking, and related activities . . . [and] the processing, drying, storage and marketing of agricultural products” is agriculture, the property taxation schemed is required to use this definition over the definition within the regulations.

Dalton G. Bixler 2016 Trust v. Tuscarawas Cty. Bd. of Revision, 2023-Ohio-2455 (Ohio Ct. App. 5th July 18, 2023).