Saturday, 18 May 2024

Wiggins bill would boost support for wine industry

SACRAMENTO – State Sen. Patricia Wiggins (D-Santa Rosa), who chairs the Senate Select Committee on California’s Wine Industry, introduced a bill earlier this year that would boost family-owned wineries as well as nonprofit groups by expanding the types of organizations allowed to conduct tasting events.

Existing law, established in 2003 by then-Assemblywoman Wiggins, allows wine orders to be taken at tasting events held by eight types of nonprofit organizations, including labor, agricultural, religious, charitable, educational, business, trade and veteran's groups.

But winegrowers are only permitted to accept orders for wine at such events; all sales transactions must be completed at the winegrowers’ premises.

Wiggins’ bill, SB 108, would expand the list of nonprofit entities allowed to conduct benefit tastings where wine orders can be placed to include civic groups, social organizations and voluntary employees' beneficiary associations.

The vast majority of California’s 800-plus commercial wineries are small operations producing less than 5,000 cases of wine a year. Wiggins said her bill seeks to address a compelling issue among smaller wineries that produce too little wine to attract the attention of distributors.

“For many of the smaller producers, sales are typically limited to tasting rooms, restaurants and, where allowed, direct shipments to consumers,” Wiggins said. “By expanding the categories of not-for-profit groups allowed to hold benefit tastings where wine orders can be placed, we’ll help boost consumer access to California wines, raise awareness of an industry that is very important to our state, and create new opportunities for organizations looking to attract support.”

Wiggins said that since she introduced her previous bill more than three years ago, she has been approached by representatives of several organizations who inquired about being included in the law.

“Many wineries are located off the beaten path and thus do not receive many visitors to their tasting rooms – if they even have tasting rooms,” Wiggins said. “I believe my bill will help boost attendance at fundraising events for nonprofits, enable consumers to order wines that they might not otherwise have access to, and help winegrowers and producers build brand awareness and loyalty.”

SB 108 is similar to a bill introduced last year by former Sen. Wesley Chesbro, which was eventually amended to address the proposed gaming compact between the Schwarzenegger Administration and the Yurok Tribe.

As the senator for California’s huge 2nd District, Wiggins represents the counties of Humboldt, Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Solano and Sonoma. Visit her Web site at



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