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Tasting At Distilleries May Soon Be Reality In California

on 08/03/13 at 11:09 am

Booze News

a1What does California have in common with Nevada, Alaska and Mississippi? If you’re stumped, don’t worry, because there may actually only be one thing: A prohibition against distilleries selling tastes and bottles of their product at the actual distillery.

Yep, it’s true. When it comes to certain liquor laws, California is about as progressive as a dogsled race. But if the California Artisanal Distillers Guild or CADG, has their way, that may soon change. The “Taste California” petition, currently being lobbied in Sacramento, is challenging Prohibition-era laws that make it impossible for distilleries to sell tastings along with a tour, just as wineries and breweries are already allowed to do.

St. George Spirits in Alameda manages to comply with the law while still offering tastes to visitors by not charging for them. But as Master Distiller Lance Winters explains, that can get expensive and is not sustainable. Additionally, the arrangement by which they are able to sell bottles of their product “on” premises is a circus of absurdity: St. George leases the space to a third-party retailer who must order the product from the distributor. So essentially a bottle of gin is made in Alameda then shipped 75 miles away and then back again. “You can grow medicinal marijuana and sell that directly to the consumer — a substance that is still controlled by the federal government — but you can’t make and sell spirits directly to consumers,” says Winters. “Even states like Utah are more progressive than California in this regard.”