Washington state is the second largest premium wine producer in the US with more than 900 wineries, according to Washington State Wine, which presents a large opportunity for wineries and wine drinkers to benefit from the expansion of current wine growler laws.
The Washington state legislature previously approved a measure that allowed wineries to sell growlers in 2014.
According to the proposed bill summary, retail sales of wine growlers are limited to domestic wineries. The wine sold by a domestic winery in a growler must be a wine of its own production and only for off-premises consumption. The growlers may be brought to the premises by the customer, or supplied by the licensee and must be filled at the tap at the time of sale.
Currently, wineries are able to sell wine in growlers however current guidance from the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), which has been in place since the 1970s, interprets the refilling of growlers as “re-packaging” wine and that requires a federal licence to sell wine.
The proposed measure would also allow businesses who sell beer or cider to also sell wine in the larger format glass containers.
Convenient and environmentally friendly
Supporters of the measure, House Bill 1039, are touting it as an eco- and cost-friendly initiative and a way to increase wine sales, as well as a convenience to retailers and consumers.
“It would be easier, and more convenient for customers to have filling stations outside of my winery,” Paul Beveridge, winemaker and president of Family Wineries of Washington State, told the Associated Press.
If wine consumers are given the ability to refill their own growlers it would have a direct impact on reducing the carbon footprint by eliminating corks, labels, and other waste of recycling traditional wine bottles.
“Studies have shown that roughly 65% of a winery’s carbon footprint is due to the glass packaging,” Beveridge said.