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Delhi Wine Club
Washington May Allow Tastings at Farmers Markets

Posted: Monday, 17 January 2011 11:11

Washington May Allow Tastings at Farmers Markets

Wine producers of Maharashtra might be interested to learn that the American wine producing state of Washington is considering legislation to allow wine tastings in the farmers markets to help customers taste and buy wines, after the law allowing sale of wine at the grocery stores was successful. Hopefully, Indian States will become more favourable to wine tasting as a precursor to wine selection.

A state lawmaker from Seattle is reportedly introducing a bill that would direct the Liquor Control Board (the Canadian State monopoly) to choose ten farmers markets for a test program during the next two years. Under this programme, one winery or microbrewery could offer samples at one market each day. Customers would have to stay in the tasting location and food would be available to them as they taste samples of two ounces or less (about 60 mL). The pilot project is expected to run from July 2011 to September 2012.

Kohl-Welles, chairperson of the Senate Labour, Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee, proposed the program in the previous legislative session also but failed to get the winning votes. "I believe it would be very helpful to our farmers markets, which I strongly support and are growing across the state of Washington," she said. Siding with the wineries she added, ‘I think particularly for our small wineries and small craft breweries; they have a harder time marketing to the public. This step would give their potential customers the opportunity to taste the product’, she believes.

The state liquor board views the grocery store program as a success, Brian Smith, a spokesman for the state liquor board, reportedly writes, ‘unfortunately, there have been instances where minors were served.’ Through the end of 2010, the state had conducted 39 checks and found 72 percent of the stores in compliance. However, he says, “we did not have problems during the 30-store pilot.”

Washington Wine Institute, the wine promotion body for the state producers, also supports the bill. "By doing it in this pilot program, we can show that it's very controlled," said Martin Club, President of the WWI.

Although the programme finds a strong general support, there are some detractors too who are quite paranoid. Representatives from the Washington Association for Substance Abuse Prevention testified against it last year, voicing their concern about the unintended effect this would have on children by demonstrating the relatively casual use of alcohol- India is not the only place where wine is lumped with alcohol; the prohibition-marred USA has several pockets in several states that still maintain this posture. The US is a Federal Nation like India, where States have independent wine and alcohol laws.

The proposal is modeled after the pilot project for wine and beer tasting in grocery stores (super markets), which was approved in 2008. In 2010, the Legislature expanded the project, allowing all licensed groceries to apply for an endorsement (license) to offer wine and beer samples.

As of December last year, 195 such grocery stores in Washington were authorized to provide wine and beer samples.


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