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Category archives for “Wine”

Tennessee House of Representatives Overwhelmingly Passes Wine in Grocery Stores Bill

February 24th, 2014

Last Thursday, the Tennessee House of Representatives passed House Bill 610 by a vote of 71-15, voting to allow the issue of the sale of wine in grocery stores to be submitted to voters in local referendums, and creating a permit for the sale of wine by grocery stores. On January 30, the Senate had approved Senate Bill 837 by a vote of 23-8. The Bill will now be returned to the Senate to review the remaining differences between the two bills, before it goes to the Governor for signature. If signed by the Governor, it is anticipated that the issue could be on local November ballots for consumers to weigh in on local approval of grocery store wine sales.

One of the key differences between the two bills was fixed by the House in its new version, with the reduction of minimum size for grocery and convenience stores from 2,000 to 1,200 square feet, allowing about 500 more convenience stores to qualify. The House also reduced the fee for a grocery store wine license to $1,250 from $2,000, bringing it closer to the $850 in the Senate Bill. Already, following the House vote, Sen. Bill Ketron, the Republican who sponsored the Senate Bill, indicated to reporters that he planned to accept the House version and could ask for a vote as soon as March 3.

Even if approved, wine sales won’t be possible in grocery locations until summer 2016 due to an agreement reached with lobbies for liquor stores and wholesalers that had opposed the proposals. In another concession to liquor stores, both bills open up opportunities for traditional liquor stores to sell items other than alcohol and to do so as soon as this summer, two years before any grocery store wine sales could begin. Liquor stores are currently allowed to sell only wine and distilled spirits and a few minor accessories like corkscrews. Additionally, grocery stores would be subject to a minimum 20% markup on wines sold, in an attempt to address volume discounting, and would be prevented from offering combined deals of wine and other grocery items. To encourage wholesaler support, the Senate Bill allows for wholesalers to be located outside the four major cities in the state which they are currently restricted to, and the House Bill would extend that even further to any county which currently permits bars or liquor stores to operate. Blue laws, preventing Sunday sales of alcohol, will not be affected by any new legislation, and such sales will continue to be prohibited.

The debate in Tennessee has been ongoing since 2006. It is not the only state which has been discussing this issue as we previously blogged here. Currently, thirty-five states do not restrict the sale of wine in grocery stores. No state has managed to pass legislation changing the status quo since Iowa permitted grocery store sales in 1985. Factions in New York, now the second largest wine-producing state by volume, have attempted to pass wine in grocery store bills on numerous occasions, including a significant push in 2011. The Kansas House Commerce, Labor and Economic Development Committee held a hearing Wednesday on House Bill 2556 which would allow the sale of full strength beer and wine in grocery stores, inducing vigorous debate. A bill introduced to the Oklahoma Legislature this month, which would permit wine to be sold in grocery stores and nonalcoholic beverages and refrigerated beer and wine to be sold in liquor stores, died in Committee. And last month, a federal appeals court in Kentucky ruled that the state’s ban on grocery store sales of wine and liquor was constitutional. The court said that the state had every right to ban such sales, “just as a parent can reduce a child’s access to liquor.” The grocers who filed the original challenge to the law are reviewing rehearing and appeal options now.

If you have any questions about where wine can be sold, contact one of the attorneys at Strike & Techel.

Imbiblog is published for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. Copyright © 2014 · All Rights Reserved ·

Wine Growlers From a Keg

October 29th, 2013

Keg wine is a growing trend. Packaging and selling wine in kegs has a lot of advantages. Wine kegs are refillable and reusable. Wineries save on packaging costs, and restaurants enjoy the convenience of serving many customers without constantly uncorking bottles.

Alcohol laws dictating permissible containers and packaging for wine are expanding in concert with retailer and consumer interest in keg wine. For example:

- Effective July 1, 2013, Florida allows the sale of wine in 5.16 gallon canisters, which can be tapped like kegs, to restaurants and bars.

- Effective April 1, 2013, Oregon allows any wine shop, grocery store, wine bar or restaurant to buy wine by the keg and resell it to consumers by the glass, or in some establishments, consumers can fill their own containers in a size that is 2 gallons or less.

Most states continue to have restrictions on this “growler” type of service by a wine shop. Those restrictions comport with federal rules saying that packages cannot be filled with wine except at a winery or at a “tax paid bottling house.”

We expect to see more legislation in the coming months and years if this trend continues.

If you have any questions about keg wine, feel free to consult one of the attorneys at Strike & Techel.

Imbiblog is published for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. Copyright © 2013 · All Rights Reserved ·

Strike & Techel Speaking at Upcoming Conferences

October 15th, 2013

Barry Strike will be a presenter at the International Wine Law Association (AIDV) International Conference on October 18-20 in Vienna, Austria.  This annual conference brings together speakers and participants from around the world to discuss global strategies for legal issues related to the wine industry.  Barry will present on U.S. regulatory agencies available to assist international wine companies.

Kristen Techel will be speaking at the Wine Law Forum on Friday November 22, from 9:00am-5:00pm at Hotel Paradox in Santa Cruz, California.  Kristen will share her expertise on the emerging role of third party providers in a discussion entitled “Third Party Providers:  Unlicensed Participants in a Licensed Industry.”  The event is co-sponsored by the International Wine Law Association (AIDV).

If you would like more information on the AIDV organization or about either conference, please click here.

Imbiblog is published for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. Copyright © 2013 · All Rights Reserved ·

Governor Cuomo Signs Law Allowing New York Wine to be Sold at Local Farmers’ Markets

October 10th, 2013

On October 1, 2013, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law S. 267/A.1512, creating a new venue for New York wineries to sell their wines to consumers.  As of March 26, 2014, farm market stands may apply for a new “roadside farm market license” to sell New York State labeled wine that is produced by no more than 2 licensed farm wineries, micro-wineries or special wineries located within 20 miles of the roadside farmers’ market.

This law is in keeping with Governor Cuomo’s efforts to bolster the New York wine industry.  In a statement released after enacting the new law, Governor Cuomo said: “These new laws will build on our continuing efforts to promote New York’s wine industry across the state and beyond, boosting tourism, local economies and job growth.  We are increasing market opportunities for local producers and farmers…Our state is home to hundreds of wineries that produce some of the best wine in the world, and we want both New Yorkers and visitors to come and enjoy them.”

The new law does not include tasting privileges at the farm stands, which is probably not surprising, given the possible connection between wine tasting at a roadside stand and driving a car.  We’ll be interested to see if other states follow New York’s lead and enact legislation to license farm stands.

For the full text of the new law, click here.

Contact one of the attorneys at Strike & Techel if you have questions about licensing in New York or any other state.

Imbiblog is published for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. Copyright © 2013 · All Rights Reserved ·

Winery Direct Shipping Coming Soon to Montana

August 26th, 2013

Starting October 1, 2013, Montana will allow the direct shipment of wine to Montana residents by wineries that hold a Direct Shipment Endorsement. Holders of a Direct Shipment Endorsement may sell and directly ship up to 18 nine-liter cases of wine annually to an individual in Montana who is at least 21 years of age. Any in-state or out-of-state winery that is already registered with the Montana Department of Revenue must pay $50 and file associated paperwork to receive a Direct Shipment Endorsement, and wineries not already registered with the state will be able to simultaneously register with the state and apply for a Direct Shipper Endorsement. Applicants must submit a signed affidavit that they will contract only with common carriers that agree that wine will be delivered only to an individual in Montana who is at least 21 years old and who signs upon receipt of the wine. Records may be due every month and every quarter, and must be held for state inspection for up to three years. All taxes must be paid quarterly and tax records submitted monthly (by the 15th date of the following month) to the Department of Revenue. If a holder of a Direct Shipment Endorsement uses a bonded wine warehouse for fulfillment purposes, the endorsement holder must file a written notice that includes the name and address of the warehouse. The state also requires pre-approval of all wine labels to be shipped into the state. Stay tuned as Montana will likely issue regulations and step-by-step instructions in the coming months.

If you have any questions about shipping wine directly to Montana residents, or residents of any other state, contact one of the attorneys at Strike & Techel.

Imbiblog is published for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. Copyright © 2013 · All Rights Reserved ·

TTB Says Alcohol Content Can Move to the Back Label for Wine

June 10th, 2013

Announced today, and effective August 9, 2013, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (the TTB) has announced changes to its labeling requirements for wine. Amending 27 CFR 4.32, the alcohol content for wine no longer must appear on the brand label, and instead it may be printed on the brand label or on other labels affixed to the bottle, including the back label. The TTB also amended 27 CFR 4.36 to the effect that wines with alcohol content of at least 7 percent and no more than 14 percent may still be labeled with either (a) the designation of “light wine” or “table wine” on the brand label, or (b) the numerical alcohol content of the wine. The new amendments do not permit the “light wine” or “table wine” designations to appear on any label other than the brand label. A new COLA is not required if the only change made to an approved label is the relocation of the alcohol content statement.  If you have any questions about labeling, contact an attorney at Strike & Techel.

Imbiblog is published for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. Copyright © 2013 · All Rights Reserved ·

Brewing and Winemaking in the Comforts of Home

September 12th, 2012

Home brewing. Even Obama does it. Well, maybe not Obama himself, but he reaps the rewards of his staff’s fermentation adventures. Earlier this month, the White House’s beer recipes were released on the White House Blog (check them out here). With the release of the recipes, questions about home brewing and home winemaking have been rising. Each state has its own laws and regulations about making alcoholic beverages at home. Distilled spirits may never be made at home, as the distillation process raises too many safety issues. Most state laws are broad enough to encompass home production of both wine and beer. California’s law separately allows for home wine and home beer production (see Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 23356.2), while other states’ laws are often broad, like Illinois’ allowance which states that their laws do not “prevent the making of wine, cider or other alcoholic liquor by a person from fruits, vegetables or grains, or the products thereof, by simple fermentation and without distillation, if it is made solely for the use of the maker, his family and his guests…” 235 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/2-1. Alabama and Mississippi still do not recognize home brewing, although Mississippi does allow people to make homemade wine (see Miss. Code Ann. § 67-3-11.)

What’s most important to remember is the part in every state’s allowance about the products being made for the home. Home brewed beers and homemade wines cannot be sold to the public. Some states don’t allow homebrew to be taken outside the home, while others allow homebrew to be entered into contests and consumed by others, so long as there’s no charge involved. The federal allowance for home brewing without payment of tax caps production at 200 gallons per year for a household in which two or more adults reside and 100 gallons per year for a household with only one adult (see 27 C.F.R. § 25.205). Home wine production without payment of federal tax has the same 200 gallons for households with two or more adults and 100 gallons for households with only one adult yearly production cap under the federal regulations (see 27 C.F.R. § 24.75). Like other alcoholic beverage laws, allowances vary by state. So if you’re planning on whipping up your own White House Honey Ale or Honey Porter this fall, remember to keep in mind your state’s laws and regulations on home fermentation.

[Your brand].wine, [Your brand].beer, [Your brand].sucks: ICANN Applications for Generic Top Level Domain Names Revealed

June 13th, 2012

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (“ICANN”) manages the internet’s domain name system. Before 1998 the following generic top level domains (“gTLDs”) were in existence: .com, .edu, .gov, .int, .mil, .net, .org, and .arpa. In 2000, seven additional gTLDs were added: .aero, .biz, .coop, .info, .museum, .name, and .pro. Then in 2004, eight additional gTLDs were added. They were: .asia, .cat, .jobs, .mobi, .post, .tel, .xxx, and .travel. In 2008, ICANN began a move to open up the recognized gTLDs to a much wider scope by allowing applicants to apply for any gTLD they wanted.  However, the process was expensive and complicated, which curbed participation.

The first round of applications was announced today. ICANN received 1,930 applications from 60 countries and territories. Of the applications received, 911 are from North America, 675 are from Europe, 303 are from Asia-Pacific, 24 are from Latin American and the Caribbean, and 17 are from Africa. There are a few applications relevant to the alcoholic beverage business (.beer, .vodka, .wine, and .restaurant). Only one entity applied for .beer and .vodka, while three separate entities applied for .wine and four entities applied for .restaurant. There are also a few applications relevant to any business, such as .sucks and .best.  The applications are subject to a 60-day comment period during which anyone in the world can submit comments or file formal objections to the applied for registrations. Additionally, ICANN will review all applications to determine whether or not they should be registered. The full list of applied for gTLDs is available here: http://newgtlds.icann.org/en/program-status/application-results/strings-1200utc-13jun12-en. If you have questions about your brand and the new gTLDs feel free to contact any of the attorneys at Strike & Techel.

Imbiblog is published for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. Copyright © 2012 · All Rights Reserved ·

Formulas Online a Useful Tool for Pre-COLA Evaluations

June 12th, 2012

TTB is now offering Formulas Online, a web-based system for submitting and tracking formula submissions for domestic and imported alcoholic beverages and nonbeverages.  Formulas Online follows COLAs Online, which was implemented several years ago as an online option for filing and tracking COLA Applications.  The feature is a welcome arrival and should be much more efficient and provide for better tracking than the paper submission system of formulas.  One of the most useful changes is that applications are verified throughout the process, meaning that errors can be corrected before an application is finalized, rather than finding out weeks after a submission that an application was not properly submitted.   Submissions with Formulas Online can be made using the same user ID used to access COLAs Online.   New users should be sure to review the TTB’s helpful reference guide, found here, which walks through the Formulas Online process in detail, and includes a list of common errors.

Imbiblog is published for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. Copyright © 2012 · All Rights Reserved ·

Apply Now! Direct Wine Shipping Opens in New Jersey

May 7th, 2012

At long last, as of May 1, 2012, applications for Out-of-State Winery licenses are being accepted in New Jersey, which will permit out-of-state wineries to ship wine directly to New Jersey consumers.  As discussed in earlier posts, including here, New Jersey’s law was passed early in 2012, and makes New Jersey the 39th state to allow winery direct shipping.  The law permits wineries producing no more than 250,000 gallons of wine per year to ship wine directly to consumers in the state.  License holders may ship no more than 12 cases of wine each year per consumer for personal use.  The license also includes limited privileges for holders to sell wine directly to retailers, and for tasting room privileges within New Jersey.

No regulations were promulgated to go along with the direct shipping statute, but earlier this week, the New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control released instructions and application forms for Out-of-State Winery licenses that provide more information about direct shipping, and which can be found here.  First, the Out-of-State Winery license will be the most expensive direct shipping license in the county, with tiered pricing depending on the amount of wine produced, but costing $938 annually for wineries producing between 50,000 and 250,000 each year.   Additionally, the instructions clarify that wine shipped must be manufactured by the Out-of-State Winery license holder.  Other details of interest to potential applicants include: a) all applicants must register with the Secretary of state; b) a bond is required; c) all applicants must register with the Division of Taxation; and d) all brands must be registered before they can be shipped into the state. Each of these requirements comes with additional fees, so wineries should make sure the anticipated sales volumes warrant the costs of getting set-up.

Please feel free to contact one of our attorneys if you are interested in more information about direct winery shipping in New Jersey.