Governor Jerry Brown signed two bills last week that impact alcoholic beverage sales. The first, AB 623, creates a limited direct-to-consumer license for wineries in California. As of January 1, wineries can apply for the new license, which will permit direct sales to consumers, provided the licensee meets several conditions. The conditions require the winery to restrict sales to those solicited and accepted via direct mail, internet, or telephone orders and not operate retail premises open to the public; further, the licensee must take title and possession of all products it sells, and deliveries to purchasers must come from either the licensee’s premises or a type 14 licensed public warehouse. Holders of 17/20 licenses will have the option of transitioning to this new license if they choose to only make direct consumer sales going forward.

The second bill originated in the senate,  and was proposed in response to enforcement action taken by the ABC in San Francisco last year, penalizing the licensee at an on-sale location for infusing spirits for specialty drinks at the premises. The problem was the definition of “rectifier”, which did not formerly exclude infusing wine or spirits with flavors or blending processes. The amended definition, found in Section 23016 of the Business and Professions Code, now reads, ““Rectifier” means every person who colors, flavors, or otherwise processes distilled spirits by distillation, blending, percolating, or other processes. “Rectifier” does not include an on-sale licensee that colors, flavors, or blends distilled spirits or wine products on the on-sale licensed premises to be consumed on the licensed premises.”

The full text of the bills and additional information can be viewed on the Legislative Counsel’s website by entering the bill numbers (AB 623 and SB32).


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