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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Coming soon: liquor tasting rooms

You can go to a winery, taste their products, and buy bottles. You can go to a brewery and buy their beer in pints to consume there and maybe fill up a growler or get some bottles to go. California has thousands of wineries and hundreds of craft brewers that can take of advantage of this direct-to-consumer product sales. But distilled spirits makers, no.

Sonoma County has over 400 wineries, about 25 breweries, and less than a dozen small spirits makers, but that's about to change.

Coming soon! More places to drink!
There has been a quirk in California liquor laws that even though you can sample hard liquor from small distilleries, they can't sell you any to take home. You have to buy from a retailer that has gone through a wholesaler. Not much of an incentive to pour your goods for the public.

That will change on January 1, 2016. The governor has signed a bill allowing craft distilleries to sell bottles plus  have restaurants and bars (where they can make cocktails from their products).

There are about 50 craft distilleries in the state. (Craft distillery means they make less than 100,000 gallons a year). Figure that number to grow rapidly. In 1977 there was one craft brewery in the state (New Albion in Sonoma); now there are nearly 600. We'll see what happens with the spirits industry. Expect new interest in locally distilled beverages and an increase in sales.