Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Assemblymember Evans Sends Governor Legislation Helping Wine Lovers

Legislation sent to the Governor today by Assemblymember Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa) will, if signed, codify existing consumer expectations on winery picnic areas and tasting rooms.

Sponsored by the Wine Institute, a trade association of over 1,000 California wineries and affiliated businesses, AB 2004 passed the State Legislature with unanimous support.

"Wineries have become social destinations," said Evans. "Many winery visitors want to take a break from the tasting room and enjoy a little scenery over a picnic with friends. However, current law is unclear about winery picnics when a bottle of wine from the tasting room goes into someone´s picnic basket. I hope the Governor supports the affirmative solution offered in this legislation."

"A person has the right to buy a bottle of wine that they have sampled in a winery tasting room," said Senator Patricia Wiggins (D-Santa Rosa), a co-author of the legislation. "It makes no sense to force them to wait until they get home before they can open it, particularly when many wineries offer picnic areas or beautiful landscapes that are very much part of the wine country experience."

AB 2004 allows winery patrons to consume wine on winery premises. This will be added to existing 02 (winery license) privileges and gives wineries the choice to pursue it or not as an option in their business plan. Amendments to the bill taken in the Senate stipulate that cities and counties may restrict but not eliminate winery license privileges in a manner consistent with local land use authority.

"Friends sharing a bottle of wine at winery picnic areas has become commonplace," said Evans. "Many winery customers would like to purchase a glass of wine too."

AB 2004 passed the Senate with a 35-0 vote on June 26th. Today, the Assembly concurred amendments taken in the Senate 76-0. It now moves to the Governor for his signature or veto. He will have 12 days to act on the legislation.

California Chronicle