Governor Newsom approved Senate Bill (SB) 19, which authorizes a licensed winegrower or brandy manufacturer to operate up to two off-site tasting rooms under its winegrower license. The bill was proposed by State Senator Steven Glazer.
“Prior to the current tasting room closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, many wineries saw the opportunity to open an additional off-site tasting room as a significant benefit,” said Glazer. “This was even more pressing for many small wineries looking to expand business opportunities, especially those wineries that produce their wine in an agreement to use the facility and equipment of a second, usually larger, winery.”
Glazer argues under the agreement, smaller wineries are often unable to have a tasting room at the shared facility which limits them to having a single offsite tasting room compared to traditional wineries.
The Assembly Appropriations Committee foresees an increased licensing workload over the first 30 months of the bill’s enactment due depending on how many licensees establish an offsite tasting room.
“Regardless of the arrangement, by offering the opportunity to open one additional tasting room, smaller wineries and their customers will enjoy an enhanced ability to connect,” says Glazer.
SB 19 was opposed by Alcohol Justice, Alcohol Policy of San Diego County, California Alcohol Policy Alliance, and California Council on Alcohol Problems.
The opposition argued that “expanding the number of locations where licenses may be issued, no matter how minimal, will increase availability and therefore negatively impact public health.”
However, the bill received overwhelmingly more support from proponents including California Association of Winegrape Growers, California Chamber of Commerce, Family Winemakers of California, and many more.
Supporters state that wineries suffered significant losses due to COVID-19 restrictions on tourism, travel, gatherings, and even being open. It also gives consumers an alternative location to taste wine which provides more convenience and is a more sensible idea at a time where businesses are trying to safely reopen.