California’s Distillers faced a tough year in 2021. But, there is good news. Yesterday, California’s Alcoholic Beverage Commission extended an emergency regulatory relief package to distillers. It will permit them to Continue shipping spirits direct to customersThis was a measure which had been set to expire January 1. This extension is valid until March 31, 2022.
As There are reasonsPublished TuesdayCalifornia’s liberalization of shipping regulations has allowed them to offset the sales losses in other channels, like tasting rooms visits or in-store samplings, during the pandemic. These rule changes, along with legalizing cocktails to-go and easing restrictions on outdoor drinking and dining, helped small businesses survive. However, these two recent changes were extended. Direct shipping of spirits remained in regulatory limbo. Although the state legislature considered a bill that would legalize direct shipping, a vote is unlikely until months after expiration.
Democratic governor was asked by a group of California senators, California distillers and trade associations. Gavin Newsom of the state ABC urged the Democratic governor to make direct shipping available for long enough that the legislature could consider the matter. Senate bill S.B. 620It would enable California distilleries, and other entities, to include direct shipping of products to customers as part of their long-term business. This would allow California distillers to compete with wineries or breweries that already have this privilege.
Aaron Bergh is president and chief distiller of Calwise Spirits, Paso Robles. We haven’t yet cleared all the hurdles and we could be back in an uncertain position in three to four months if our voices are not heard. I am hopeful that the legislature will pass S.B. “620” so that we are able to continue operating our businesses in a responsible manner and encourage consumer choice, market competition and safety.
Alex Villicana, of Re:Find Distillery in Paso Robles says that the governor and ABC gave small California distillers breathing space to continue their businesses as they worked through this process. “Craft distillers have contributed a great deal of money and time to this cause and we expect to be able to compete with wineries in direct shipping within the next months.”
California joins nine other states which have allowed direct shipping to spirits. There are also 46 states where direct shipping is legal. Despite the opposition of temperance groups, liberalization has been greatly increased in relation to alcohol laws. This will allow for greater access to niche spirits. Many of these are not easily or even possible to purchase because of the restrictions that must be sold through. Three-tiered SystemIn this case, distributors are a compulsory middleman between the producers and the consumers.