Wednesday, 28 September 2022

Assembly Committee approves bill to streamline laws governing winegrowers, nonprofit organizations

SACRAMENTO – In recent years, state lawmakers have enacted multiple laws pertaining to winemakers and winegrowers participating with non-profit organizations at their charity events, including pouring wine for tasting and taking orders for wine to be filled back at their wineries or businesses.


On Wednesday, the Assembly Committee on Governmental Organization voted 13-0 to approve Senate Bill (SB) 157, new legislation by Senator Patricia Wiggins (D-Santa Rosa) designed to make all of those previously-enacted laws consistent.


Existing law allows winegrowers to conduct tastings of their products away from their places of business, including at fundraising events held by non-profit organizations. They may also accept orders for their wines at such events, but they are limited to filling those orders back at their businesses.


In 2007, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed SB 108, legislation by Senator Wiggins that expanded the number of non-profit organizations that can hold wine tasting events where wineries can take orders to be filled afterwards.


SB 108 created more opportunities for small wineries in California to introduce or build awareness of their brand while also allowing more non-profits to utilize wine tastings for fund raising purposes. In addition, it offered consumers other venues to discover difficult-to-find wines.


Wiggins, who chairs the Senate Select Committee on California’s Wine Industry, said her bill, SB 157, would ensure that all non-profits currently recognized under the existing laws are treated according to the same standards.


“This bill will make it easier for wineries and non-profits organizations to understand what events can be held and what activities may occur at those events,” Wiggins said.


“Logic suggests that if a winery can take orders at events held by 11 nonprofit types, they should also be able to donate and pour wine at those events, but as the laws now stand, it’s not clear whether they can,” she added. “This bill will clarify that winegrowers can donate and pour at the same set of non-profit organizations that elect to hold these kinds of events, while also being able to take orders for wine that they can fill back at their wineries or businesses.”


SB 157’s sponsor, the Family Winemakers of California (FWC), said the bill would allow more non-profit organizational types to collaborate with wine producers to provide attractive events for consumers.


According to FWC President Paul Kronenberg, “Under this bill, consumers win, the non-profits derive more income for important activities benefiting local groups and wine producers win because they have another brand-building opportunity and the potential to sell some wine in collaboration with a worthwhile cause.”


The Assembly Committee on Governmental Organization approved SB 157 as part of its consent calendar. The bill next heads to the Assembly Appropriations Committee for consideration.


Wiggins represents California’s Second Senate District, which includes the premium wine-growing regions of Lake, Mendocino, Napa and Sonoma counties.


For more information on SB 157 or other bills that Wiggins has authored, please visit her Web site: http://dist02.casen.govoffice.com/.


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