Local Distilleries Rally to Change Laws on Tasting and Bottle Sales
Small batch liquor producers are popping up all over the place these days, but they aren't having an easy time making their wares available to the public here in California. Unlike wine tasting rooms and breweries, Cali craft distillers are forbidden from giving samples of their spirits to guests. They also can't sell their product direct from the "tasting room."
But the distillers -- which includes the likes of L.A.'s own Greenbar Collective -- are banding together in hopes of changing the laws. They've run up against a powerful liquor lobby in Sacramento, but that hasn't dampened their spirits.
The opposing group is mainly made up of powerful (and very wealthy) liquor distributors and wholesalers, who would essentially would lose money if the proposed bill went through.
Greenbar Collective -- which produces Bar Keep Organic Bitters, Crusoe Rum, and Fruitlab Organic Liquers -- is just one of several CA distillers including Ballast Point, Charbay, Distiller 209, and St. George Spirits, who are looking ot change the strict post-Prohibition laws that are hindering their growth. These laws impact production, distribution, and retailing with their proposed bill, AB 933. A legislative hearing is set for next month.
The L.A. Times discussed the issue in a piece printed this morning, stating that each year we continue to have such stringent laws that make it difficult for small businesses to have a go at it, we lose ground to more progressive states.
And despite the name, this small batch market is everything but.
Nicolas Palazzi of PM Spirits illustrated the boom in a recent interview with Eater, saying: "In the US in January 2010, you had like 70 to 80 operating distilleries out there that were 'craft,' meaning that they were putting out less than 100,000 gallons a year. And by mid 2012 there were 180 of them. So the number of American craft distilleries basically more than doubled in a year and a half. That gives you an idea of how popular the craft movement is."
The hope for the California spirits producers is that eventually our state would be able to establish something similar to Portland's Distillery Row, which has not only created many jobs for Oregonians, but also is a tourism draw for spirits enthusiasts.
Considering the state of California's joblessness, we have to say cheers to that.