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Wine Availability in Growlers to Expand in Washington Thursday

June 10, 2014


(Seattle, WA June 9th, 2014) As of this coming Thursday, Washington consumers will be able to have wine growlers refilled at their favorite winery’s satellite tasting rooms. That’s when a law proposed by winery advocacy group “Family Wineries of Washington State” takes effect.

Several wineries plan celebrations to mark the date. Paul Beveridge, president of the organization will host such an event at his “Wines of Washington” tasting room on Post Alley at the Pike Place Market in Seattle. State Representative Sharon Wylie of Vancouver, the bill’s prime sponsor in the House of Representatives, will be on hand for the occasion where she will receive Family Wineries’ annual “Legislator of the Year” award. “We’re thrilled to have Representative Wylie join us for this celebration, and equally thrilled be able to fill growlers at our tasting room rather than bringing the growlers here from the winery and then transporting the empty bottles back for filling” Beveridge said. “The main reason this format is so wildly popular with consumers is the reduction in carbon footprint it represents. Saving on transportation fuel only adds to that.”

Other Wineries planning a commemoration include Piccola Cellars at their Woodinville tasting room, and Lost River Winery at their Seattle tasting room. Lost River proprietor John Morgan, a board member of Family Wineries, was slightly more reserved in his elation. “Well, obviously it’s a great day,” Morgan said, “but it’s also somewhat bittersweet for consumers. Our original bill would have allowed the filling of growlers in wine shops, breweries, taverns, and restaurants as well. In short everywhere that beer growlers, and cider growlers can now be filled in Washington. Incredibly, there was opposition within the Washington wine industry.” Morgan further observed that, “Obviously, the most economically important location for us to fill growlers is our own tasting room but there is absolutely no reason that consumers shouldn’t have those other options, especially given the recent change in federal policy.”

The noted change in federal policy refers to a special federal license formerly required for establishments filling wine growlers, though not beer growlers. In March the federal Alcohol and Tobacco TTB, successor to the ATF, re-affirmed a 1973 industry advisory requiring the “taxpaid bottling house” permits. A subsequent outcry by restaurant owners and wine shop retailers in Oregon, where state law allows growlers to be filled, prompted a unanimous request from the Oregon congressional delegation for the TTB to reconsider the advisory. Last month TTB did so, suspending the advisory and enforcement of the policy pending a change in the rules. “We had already started the application process for our taxpaid bottling house license” Morgan said. “It’s a fairly simple permit and really no big deal for someone used to dealing with the TTB, but I can understand why shop owners and restaurants were a bit freaked out by it. Obviously I’m delighted not to have to get yet another permit and also pleased with the attitude of the TTB in recognizing that this permit really is not appropriate for simply filling wine growlers.”

Family Wineries of Washington State is a business league promoting member wineries and advocating for streamlined regulation and freedom of marketing for small Washington wineries. Board president Beveridge stated that the organization will seek to expand the bill to cover restaurants, taverns, and wine shops next year. “Since cider is now allowed in growlers at these locations, and since cider is wine under state law, we view this situation as one of simple discrimination against table wine” Beveridge concluded.

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