Virginia Gov. signs law enabling distillers to sell bottles at fests
Received this press release from the Virginia Distillers Association. Great news for the Commonwealth!
Last week, Governor Terry McAuliffe formally signed off on Senate Bill 1448 and House Bill 2029 which are identical bills presented by the Virginia Distillers Association (VDA); which will enable Virginia distilleries to sell bottles at events conducted for the purpose of featuring and educating the consuming public about spirits effective July 1, 2017.
VDA president and CEO of Virginia Distillery Company Gareth Moore said in a statement, “Virginia legislators are becoming much more enthusiastic and supportive of Virginia’s burgeoning craft spirits industry; this recent legislation is a success for expanding market access in partnership with Virginia ABC. The VDA would like to thank Senator Creigh Deeds, Delegates Nick Freitas and Kaye Kory; the patrons of the legislation, for their support of our growing industry.”
Director of VDA government relations Curtis Coleburn explained why this new legislation will help the Virginia distilleries gain exposure and increase sales. “Like the successful wine festivals held annually across Virginia, craft spirits festivals are growing in number and represent an excellent way to introduce Virginia consumers to the many outstanding distilled products made here in the Commonwealth,” Coleburn said. “Today’s consumers seek greater access to products. Without this legislation, visitors to a spirits event who find a product they like must be directed to a Virginia ABC store to make a purchase. The new law will eliminate missed sales opportunities.”
The Virginia Distillers Association is planning two annual large-scale consumer events to celebrate the new legislation. The first of which will be the Virginia Craft Spirits Showcase (in partnership with Leisure Media 360) in Roanoke Virginia at City Market Building on Saturday, September 16, 2017. The second event will be the Coastal Virginia Spirits Classic (in partnership with Vista Graphics) in Hampton Roads this fall. “Many Virginia spirits products are available only regionally in the state or even just at the distillery,” explained Mary Beth Williams of Williams Compliance. “Consumers will now have the chance to taste products from multiple Virginia distilleries at these events, learn the story behind each product, and purchase products that might not be available at their local Virginia ABC store to take home and share with friends and family. It’s a win-win for the industry and the consumers.” Additional details on both of these events will be released by the VDA in the coming weeks.
Lastly, in addition to support from the Virginia General Assembly, Virginia ABC has also been working with the Virginia Distillers Association to improve the regulatory landscape. Effective as of August 1, 2016, restaurants and mixed-beverage licensees can now purchase Virginia spirits directly from Virginia distilleries. Additional initiatives such as a statewide discount on all Virginia spirits throughout September Virginia Spirits Month, and more are actively being developed for launch later this year by Virginia ABC and the VDA.