Washington Legislature considers special-event wine sales

By on February 24, 2016
Washington state legislature

Josh McDonald of the Washington Wine Institute speaks during a legislative hearing with James Paribello, left, of the Liquor & Cannabis Board. (Photo by John Stang for Great Northwest Wine)

OLYMPIA, Wash. — A bill is about two-thirds the way through the Washington Legislature to tackle wine sales at special events, plus selling private collections.

The bill by Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima, passed the Senate 39-8, and went through a hearing Monday in front of the House Commerce & Gaming Committee. “It does a lot for our wine industry,” King said.

“This will help more people to buy wine at charity events,” said Josh McDonald, executive director of the Washington Wine Institute

McDonald and James Paribello of the state Liquor & Cannabis Board testified in favor the bill. No one testified against it.

King’s bill would allow a nonprofit organization that obtains a special-occasion liquor license to sell wine in original, unopened containers for consumption on the licensed premises.

And the bill would allow a licensed domestic winery to sell wines of its own production at retail, and for off-premises consumption, at licensed special occasion events hosted by nonprofit organizations. The winery would have to obtain a license endorsement from the Liquor & Cannabis Board.

These wine sales would have to meet the following conditions:

Wine sales conducted pursuant to this endorsement are subject to the following conditions: (a) Delivery to the buyer must be on a date subsequent to the special event and at a place other than the location of the special event. All wines must comply with regulations regarding direct sales of wine to consumers. The wine sold at a special event is not resold.

Finally, King’s bill would authorize the state’s Liquor & Cannabis Board to issue a special permit for the sale of a private collection of wine or spirits to an individual or business.

The seller would have to get a permit at least five business days before the sale, for a fee of $25 dollars per sale. The seller must report the sales information and pay any taxes due to the Liquor & Cannabis Board within 20 days of the sale.

About John Stang

John Stang is a longtime journalist who covers Washington state politics. He lives in the Seattle area.

One Comment

  1. Don Julien

    February 25, 2016 at 6:43 am

    It’s useful to put this in context with current law. Non-profits can now sell drinks by the glass for consumption at special events; if they opt to sell unopened bottles at the event, it can only be for off-site consumption. This bill would allow consumers to buy a bottle, open it & drink it at the event.

    A winery can currently participate at a non-profit’s event, but cannot sell wine. The non-profit has to handle any sales, buying the wine from the winery or distributor and paying for it by the end of the event. However, a non-profit may not be set up to handle wine sales, either logistically or financially, so this opens the door to direct sales by the participating winery, but only to the extent of taking orders for later delivery.

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