Ken Peck, owner of Dakota Creek winery in Washington state, had a surprise visitor in August: an inspector from the state Department of Agriculture wearing a lab coat and hairnet. She wanted to know if he and his winery workers also wear hairnets. Peck replied that he’d never heard of anyone in the wine industry who does. The inspector said that she usually surveys dairy plants and this was her first winery inspection.

The visit was one of 23 inspections of Washington state wineries the U.S. Food and Drug Administration contracted the state agency to perform in the 2011–12 fiscal year. In a little-known program, the FDA performed 261 winery inspections nationwide, either directly or through state agencies, compared with 132 in 2009–10. While winery inspections are not new, they’re being ramped up under the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act, according to FDA spokeswoman Patricia El-Hinnawy.

While wineries are considered low risk because the fermentation process kills pathogens, all food facilities must be inspected within seven years and at least once every five years after that.

For more, see: FDA Takes a Growing Interest in Winery