Direct wine shipment, small winery direct sales/self distribution on governor’s desk; Locating wineries in dry counties ready for final OK

A “worked-out” bill allowing wineries to ship limited quantities of wine to Alabama homes cleared both chambers of the Alabama Legislature last week. HB437 by Rep. Terri Collins, R-Decatur, along with Sens. J.T. “Jabo” Waggoner, R-Vestavia Hills, and Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, has been on the governor’s desk since Tuesday, May 4. She has 10 days to act on legislation that reaches her fewer than five days before adjournment. Tuesday was the session’s 28th legislative day. The 30th and final day is Monday, May 17.

Collins said that only wineries, not retailers, would be able to ship wine to homes, under the legislation the Senate passed April 29. The House concurred in the changes later that day.  Separate legislation enacted earlier in the session would allow home delivery of sealed beer, wine and liquor by delivery services, breweries and distilleries, off-premise alcohol licensees and those with on-premise restaurant retail liquor licenses (only when delivered with meals). The alcohol delivery legislation is effective Oct. 1.

Collins’ bill creates a direct wine shipper license that would allow wine manufacturers, in state or outside Alabama, to ship wine directly to Alabamians who are 21 or older. It also creates a wine fulfillment center license. Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board Administrator Mac Gipson said, “Alabama would be only the third state to require the licensing, reporting and oversight of fulfillment centers – an important tool in guarding against possible abuses.” The bill allows up to 12 cases, or nine liters, of wine to be shipped to an Alabama home in the span of a year. The ABC Board would develop rules related to the legislation.

The application fee would be $200 with a $150 annual renewal fee for the direct wine shipper license. An annual $500 fee for the fulfillment center license, plus $100 for each premise from which shipments are made.

Besides the shipping provisions, the bill sets conditions for franchise agreements between suppliers and wine wholesale distributors.

Waggoner and Singleton, who originally sponsored separate direct wine shipment legislation, contributed to and agreed to the substitute bill. “When we all sat down, we realized we weren’t that far apart,” Singleton said. Waggoner earlier had said his ultimate goal was for “one direct shipment vehicle” to move through the legislative process.

Waggoner, chairman of a 2019 direct wine shipment task force, presented similar direct wine shipment legislation last year, two days before the first coronavirus case was reported in Alabama. It didn’t have time to be fully considered before the Legislature closed out its 2020 session.

Singleton and Collins presented companion bills in the 2020 and 2019 sessions that also would have allowed wine to be shipped directly to consumers.

SMALL WINERIES DIRECT SALES AND SELF-DISTRIBUTION
Tuesday, May 4, the Alabama Senate concurred with House changes to SB294 by Sen. Andrew Jones, R-Centre, and Rep. Terri Collins, R-Decatur, which would allow Alabama’s small farm wineries to self-distribute their wines to retailers and sell directly to consumers. The bill awaits action by the governor.

The bill allows existing wineries that produce fewer than 50,000 gallons of wine annually with at least half of its wine made from produce grown in Alabama to sell up to 10,000 gallons directly to retailers licensed to sell alcoholic beverages. It would allow up to 20,000 gallons to be sold directly to retailers if two separate wholesalers have refused to distribute the wine. Under the bill, farm wineries could deliver to retailers via vehicles owned or leased by the winery.

SB294 also would allow farm wineries to sell directly to consumers for on- or off-premise consumption at the winery as long as the winery remits sales and other taxes to the state and local governments.

WINERY IN A DRY COUNTY
Legislation allowing a winery to open in a dry county and be licensed to manufacture wine for distribution outside of the county is ready for final consideration in the House. Tuesday, May 4, the House Economic Development and Tourism Committee approved SB397 by Sen. Andrew Jones, R-Centre, sending the bill to the full House. The Alabama Senate approved the bill April 27.

To sell, they would have to go through a distributor.  This legislation does not circumvent the three-tier system,” Jones said.

OTHER ALCOHOL LEGISLATION

Purchasing case of wine at a wine festival in Alabama possible as of July 1

Home delivery of sealed beer, wine and liquor possible by Oct. 1

Bill that boosts daily caps for off-premise sales on governor’s desk; and status of other alcohol bills

This article is part of the Alabama Retail Report, a communication for Alabama Retail Association members. Not a member? Join us!

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