Monday, November 29, 2010

Wine Industry News

FWWS Tax Reporting Relief Act Becomes Reality – In Idaho

The State of Idaho recently adopted rules allowing wineries, at their option, to report and pay their liquor taxes annually as long as they have less than $600 in quarterly tax liability. The Idaho rules actually allow qualifying wineries to report monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually, at their option. The rules save time and money for both the wineries and the state – an important virtue in these recessionary times. The Idaho law is very much like what FWWS has been proposing to the Liquor Board and in the Washington Legislature for three years. The Washington Wine Institute has thus far declined to support this legislation citing a “lack of safeguards” similar to federal annual reporting. It is not clear to us what such safeguards might be since Washington has no tax bond requirements even for the largest wineries, but we are hopeful that in future the Wine Institute will join us in supporting our proposal for this positive change. As Idaho has clearly demonstrated, this sort of reform is achievable.

Governor Suspends Agency Rulemaking

On November 17, Governor Gregoire signed Executive Order 10-06 “Suspending Non-Critical Rulemaking and Adoption.” The stated intent of Governor Gregoire’s order is to relieve the burden on small business of implementing and adopting agency rules. FWWS has contacted the Governor’s office to express thanks for her recognition of the adverse effects of such burdensome regulation, and noted that advocating for such regulatory relief is one of the founding purposes of our organization.

An immediate effect of this rule on our industry was to table rulemaking on five topics, including rules proposed by the Washington Beer and Wine Wholesaler’s Association that would have allowed distributors to charge fees for split cases (ironically a form of volume pricing). As noted in a Memo from the Governor’s office, rulemaking may continue for various reasons including implementation of laws or court orders, public safety emergencies, and “negotiated rule making or pilot rule making that involved substantial participation by interested parties.” The grocery store sampling program is proceeding through rulemaking under the latter noted exception. The alcohol energy drink and chronic alcohol impact area rulemaking processes are proceeding under the public safety exception.

What is a Winery, Northwest Style

Much has been heard lately under the subject heading of “What is a Winery?” The Washington Wine Institute (WWI) has been speaking out about this issue for well over a year. FWWS learned this past summer that the Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB) has been working with the WWI since at least June on this issue and apparently shares some of the concerns of the WWI with regard to definition. Since the WSLCB’s involvement clearly makes this an industry-wide issue, we asked for a copy of the bill. We were referred back to the WWI which has repeatedly claimed that the bill is “not yet drafted.” Repeated requests to the WSLCB for an outline of their specific issues of concern that would be addressed by the expected bill have thus far gone unanswered. At this point it is unclear to us what current business models may be in violation of current State statute, and we believe it would be unproductive to speculate on that topic. We are concerned that if not carefully drafted, such a bill could theoretically infringe on business privileges and practices currently enjoyed by Washington wineries. We are presently seeking clarification of this issue via a meeting with the WWI, the WSLCB, and a key legislator. We will present further information on the specifics of this proposal and FWWS’s position when such becomes available.

Interestingly, there is a current proposal in Oregon on the subject of defining a winery. This proposal, by the Oregon Beer and Wine Wholesalers’ Association, has as one central feature a requirement that wineries “produce” at least 75% of the wine they sell. Depending on how the term “produce” is defined, this could result in a severe limitation on “negociant” wines produced under license at facilities owned by others. We believe this is a serious concern given that using the economies of scale inherent in larger facilities is a proven way for small wineries to become larger wineries. We believe negociant wine to be a simple matter of brand ownership and/or alternating premise designation. We are not aware of any Federal law that presently precludes such a practice.

As stated above, we do not wish to speculate on what may or may not be in any eventual bill put forward by the WWI. We stand ready to support any bill which makes legal currently used winery business models that are not presently allowed under State law. Since FWWS has never opposed a proposal of the WWI, and since it would be preferable to have our concerns addressed ahead of time to avoid such an opposing stance, the WWI’s lack of communication on this matter is regrettable. We will keep you posted and hope to be able to report shortly that our concerns in this regard have been satisfactorily answered.

Texas Shipping Ban Survives Another Challenge

In a very unfortunate result, the State of Texas shipping policy, which discriminates against out-of-state retailers, has won another round in court. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals held that Texas’ ban on direct shipments by retailers was constitutional despite the clear violation of the commerce clause. This is a rather stunning result in that it goes completely against the grain of the Granholm decision which found such discrimination in the case of wineries (i.e., discriminating in favor of in-state wineries and against out-of-state wineries with regard to shipping regulations) to be in violation of the commerce clause of the US Constitution. As you are probably aware, the wholesalers have responded to Granholm in the US congress by proposing HR-5034 to have congress give up its exclusive right to regulate interstate commerce with regard to wine, thereby allowing states like Texas to openly and brazenly discriminate against wineries such as yours. Incredibly, the Circuit Courts seem to be suggesting that the commerce clause does not protect wine retailers in interstate commerce the same way that the Supreme Court has ruled it protects wine producers. The Specialty Wine Retailer’s Association, an FWWS affiliate member, has made appeal of this case its highest priority. Since FWWS believes that retailers are in the best position to navigate the myriad state shipping regulations, and since sales margins to retailers are vastly higher than those to wholesalers, we feel this issue is of vital importance to Washington wineries. We will be following this issue closely. Stay tuned!

HR-5034 Becomes Zombie - Stalks Halls of Congress

HR-5034 is the current attempt by the beer and wine wholesalers to have Congress abdicate its right to regulate interstate commerce, and allow states to enact laws which once again openly discriminate against out-of-state wineries in shipping. Despite more than 100 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives, HR-5034 was apparently too blatant to survive intact. Its sponsor, Massachusetts Representative Delahunt, offered changes to the bill in September that gave lip service to concerns about discrimination, yet provided virtually no barrier to the effective overturn of the Granholm decision. So the bill is not dead but lives on like a zombie. Its future is uncertain. While Representative Pelosi’s loss of the House Speaker’s chair removed a potentially overpowering opponent hailing from California, the Country’s largest wine-producing state, Democratic Representative Delahunt, perhaps sensing the same tide that took Speaker Pelosi’s seat, chose not to seek re-election in 2010. Rest assured that the wholesalers’ lobby will not cease their dousing of congress with their large diameter money hose. This issue will require constant vigilance.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Internships / SSCC Partnership

In an effort to better serve our members, Family Wineries of Washington State is in the process of developing an internship program which will serve the needs of small wineries as well as the needs of students in the industry. In the weeks to follow we will be sending a brief survey in order to determine where your needs are most heavily concentrated. Your suggestions and feedback are important to our mission, so please feel free to write independently of the survey if you have anything you would like to input.

It is our pleasure to announce our first partnership with South Seattle Community College and the Northwest Wine Academy. Although young, the program is highly respected in the industry for producing talented graduates. Interns are available to assist you in all aspects of your business including the following:
  • Marketing and Sales
  • Tasting Room Operations
  • Reporting Functions
  • Cellar Operations
  • Chemistry Services
  • Bottling / Labeling
  • Harvest Production
Our long-term vision for partnerships also include collaboration on:
  • Class guest speakers
  • Class projects
  • Field trips
  • Student volunteer work
Thank you for continuing to support Family Wineries of Washington State. You will be kept up-to-date on progress concerning this and future partnerships with other Washington state wine programs. We look forward to hearing from you!

Jean Marie Elkins

FWWS Friends of the Family Program

Friday, November 5, 2010

I-1100 Fails. What's Next?

Dear FWWS Member,

At the time of this writing, it appears likely that I-1100 will fall slightly short of the necessary votes needed for approval. We know that some of you will be relieved and and some very disappointed by this outcome. One thing we can likely all agree on is that I-1100 was not an ideal solution to all the regulatory problems faced by small Washington wineries. At the very least this issue engendered open and vigorous debate on the current and future course of the Washington wine industry.

So what's next for FWWS? The short answer is we pick up right where we left off, except that where we left off is a bit of a misnomer since we never stopped working on our legislative proposals. We have already secured a promise for a meeting with the current chair (and at this moment apparently next session's chair) of the Senate Labor, Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee together with representatives of the Liquor Control Board, the Wine Institute and our contract lobbyists, Mark Gjurasic and Terry Kohl. We hope to discuss all of the following:
  • Our "Payment Parity Act" that would apply the same terms to business checks and other customary forms of payment as were recently applied to EFT transactions. This would allow you to voluntarily leave wine with vendors without immediate (CoD) payment and not thereby surrender your right to collect the money due because you have broken the law.
  • Our "Tax Reporting Relief Act" that would allow wineries producing fewer than 5,000 gallons per year to file state production reports annually rather than monthly at their option.
  • Our "Craft Wineries" act that would allow wineries producing fewer than 10,000 cases annually to register, at their option, as a "Craft Winery" and be exempted from many of the restrictions (or some would say "protections") contained in the current liquor code such as delivered pricing, co-advertising restrictions, etc.
  • The Wine Institute's proposal to further define the term "winery." Since it has never been apparent to us why this is necessary, we will be able to get some clarification on that point, to give input on keeping any new definitions as simple as possible, and to ensure that in providing for the existence of any potential new business models, the new proposal does not eliminate any rights currently enjoyed by wineries. We are specifically concerned with any potential limitations on the presently unlimited right of wineries to make "negociant" wine at facilities owned by other wineries.
In addition to proceeding with our legislative agenda, we will in the coming weeks be proposing several new bylaw amendments for your consideration as well as electing at least one new board member.

Stay tuned!

The Board

Friday, October 22, 2010

Welcome New Industry Member Baldwin Resource Group, Inc.

I am pleased to welcome our newest industry member, Baldwin Resource Group, Inc., to the FWWS. Here is some information on them:

Baldwin Resource Group is a professional service firm committed to assisting our clients in building, preserving and protecting their physical and financial assets. We serve businesses and individuals and provide resources and expertise in the Insurance, Employee Benefits, Business Consulting, Risk Management and Financial Asset Management disciplines. BRG is focused on building long-term relationships with an emphasis on finding solutions to our clients’ most pressing problems.

Welcome to the org!

Welcome New Member Fielding Hills Winery

I am pleased to welcome our newest member, Fielding Hills Winery, to the FWWS. Here is some information on them:

Creating truly premiums reds wines is our primary goal; but also will be our desire to produce a wine that can help make any occasion a special one. By using only time honored small lot winemaking methods, combined with only the finest ingredients (grown at our affiliated vineyards in Mattawa, WA), we believe our wines truly excel. We also hope that by sharing with you many of the details of our winemaking experiences that you can become more connected to our wines. Only time and tastings will prove the results of our efforts.

Welcome to the org!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Latest News

Here is the latest news for your reading enjoyment...

Prohibition and Repeal: A short History of the Wine Industry’s Regulation in the United States
Journal of Wine Economics

"The United States wine industry has experienced tremendous growth in the past twenty-five years. The number of wineries in the United States has grown to almost 5000, located in all fifty states, and creating over a million full time jobs. Alcohol distribution laws that hinge on the Supreme Court’s reconciliation of the Twenty-first Amendment and the Commerce Clause have significantly hindered the industry’s ability to expand. Current interpretations of the 21st Amendment give states unprecedented freedom to regulate interstate commerce in alcoholic beverages. The resulting regulatory diversity presents problems both domestically and internationally."

Calling all wineries, distributors and wine retailers
Washington Wine Report

"As part of a subsequent post about Initiatives 1100 and 1105 following the current series, I will be giving the perspective of people at all three of the distribution tiers: wineries, distributors, and retailers. If you are interested in sharing your thoughts, please contact me at This will involve responding by phone or email to a specific set of questions. The responses may be anonymous or attributed, whichever you prefer.

Separately, I plan on collating and listing the names of wineries that have taken positions for or against these initiatives and listing this information on the blog for reference. If you are interested in having your winery's name listed, please contact me at the email address above and state your position on each of these initiatives (no additional explanation needed)."

Yes on I-1100, no on I-1105
The Herald

"We recommend a yes vote on Initiative 1100, which would close all state liquor stores, including those run under contract, and require the state to sell its huge liquor distribution center in Seattle. It also would clear away many archaic rules that were established after the repeal of Prohibition, rules that haven’t made sense for years. Among other things, they ban direct sales from manufacturers to retailers, the extension of credit for liquor sales to retailers, and discounts on bulk purchases.

We encourage a no vote on Initiative 1105, which also would get the state out of the liquor business, but hold onto unnecessary requirements that favor distributors and keep prices artificially high. Retailers would have to buy liquor through a middleman."

Liquor privatization draws distributor ire
The Herald

"The battle over Washington state’s two liquor privatization ballot measures has drawn millions of dollars from out of state, mostly from beer wholesalers opposed to efforts to shake up the current alcohol distribution system."

Get state out of liquor sales: Yes on I-1100, no on I-1105
The News Tribune

"Of the two liquor initiatives on November’s ballot, only one ends all state intervention in the liquor market plus has the added advantage of heading off an unholy fight over new liquor taxes.

Initiative 1100 is that measure. Voters who want to get the state out of the business of booze should approve it while voting no on its competing measure, Initiative 1105."

Monday, September 27, 2010

Wine Industry News

News has been fast and furious lately, here are some interesting developments in our industry:

New Version of H.R. 5034 Being Circulated
WineAmerica, The National Association of American Wineries

"A new version of H.R. 5034 is being circulated by its chief sponsor, retiring Massachusetts Congressman, Bill Delahunt (D-MA). The bottom line — it’s still an unnecessary piece of legislation that would harm wineries."

Va. wineries back liquor privatization proposal
The Washington Post

"The Virginia Wineries Association on Wednesday endorsed Gov. Bob McDonnell's (R) proposal to privatize the state's liquor industry.

The group is the latest industry, retail and transportation group to back McDonnell's bid to sell the state's wholesale and retail spirits operation. In a statement, the wineries say that privatization would be good for Virginia wine because studies show that more wine is sold in stores where liquor is also sold."

I-1100 - AWB Endorses
I-1105 - AWB Opposes
Association of Washington Business

"The Association of Washington Business, one of the state’s leading business groups, endorsed Initiative 1100 today, saying that the initiative will reset “the priorities of state government” and “refocus state government on essential services.”

The 250-person AWB Board endorsed I-1100 with 82 percent of the vote (60 percent is needed to pass). Rather than approval, Initiative 1105, a competing initiative on the Nov. 2 ballot, received 82 percent opposition from the AWB board."

Agonizing Over and Analyzing Washington Ballot Initiatives I-1100 & I-1105
Wine Peeps

"After following the money, studying what the initiatives do and don’t do, and since I am a big proponent of dismantling the archaic three-tiered system that exists primarily for the benefit of distributors and for getting the state monopoly out of the wine retail business, I had concluded that I’m for I-1100 and against I-1105."

Initiative 1100 best route for Washington state to get out of retail liquor business
The Seattle Times

"The Seattle Times Editorial Board supports Initiative 1100, which would replace the state liquor monopoly with a competitive market, and it opposes Initiative 1105, which would replace the state liquor stores with a private cartel."

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Welcome New Member Hoover & Roofus Winery

I am pleased to welcome our newest member, Hoover & Roofus Winery, to the FWWS. Here is some information on them:

Hoover & Roofus Winery is a boutique winery in Zillah producing less than 1000 cases annually of Riesling, Nebbiolo, and Pinot Gris.

Welcome to the org!

Friday, August 20, 2010

E-mail, Facebook, and Twitter Updates

Attention wine geeks!

Our org would love to stay in touch with you. But we also value your privacy. So we have created a variety of ways you can get updates from our org:

Family Wineries of Washington State News E-mail

This e-mail service is opt-in only. That means we don’t sign you up, you need to sign-up yourself. That way we can guarantee you don’t end up receiving these e-mails when you don’t want to. In addition, this list allows safe unsubscribing at any time after joining.


Visit our Facebook page and “like” us! Our blog also feeds our Facebook page so you can read the latest info about our org.


Follow us on Twitter and receive all the latest news on your mobile device.

We hope you sign-up and enjoy the updates!

2010 TTB Compliance Seminar for Bonded Wine Premises Handout Packet

The 2010 TTB Compliance Seminar for Bonded Wine Premises handout packet is now available.

Of special interest are Common Compliance Concerns detailed on pages 168-169. Here are some samples:
  • Inadequate bond coverage
  • Unauthorized distilled spirits or brewing operations take place on wine premises
  • Amount removed in each tax class is not totaled on taxable removal record
  • Insufficient evidence of removals for tasting, testing, and breakage
  • Taxes paid do not match the taxable removals shown on Form 5120.17
  • COLAs don't match the labels
  • Records relating to receipt and use of spirits are insufficient
  • Bottled wine shortages were not taxpaid
Take the time to review the packet and get up-to-date.

Yes to 1100!

Check out the new pages for Yes to 1100



Please visit the sites and take advantage of the plethora of useful information WRT to I-1100.

Vote YES on 1100!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

I-1100 Just Makes Sense

Washington state should not be in the liquor business. Rather than promoting alcohol sales the state should make enforcement its primary mission. The Liquor Control Board has been blinded by the money and it needs to get back to basics and put its full energy behind enforcement. Controlling teenage drinking will not be a problem if the state just does its job.

I-1100 is the responsible way to take the state out of the liquor business. It leaves the taxes in place but it ends the monopolistic practice of the state charging an obscene 51.9% mark-up on a bottle of liquor on top of the highest liquor tax in the nation.

I-1100 is about convenience. Especially for people who are only occasional purchasers of alcohol. It is incredibly inconvenient to, after going to the grocery store to shop for a special event, make an extra stop at some out-of-the-way strip mall to shop at a state liquor store. The limited hours of operation are a real problem in our active world.

I-1100 reduces the head count of state workers while creating hundreds of new jobs in the private sector.

Remember to vote YES on 1100 and NO on 1105!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

WA State Winery Data 2009

This is a follow-up to our popular previous blog post on 2008 WA winery data. Our previous blog post detailed and charted interesting winery data from 2008. Well, here's the data from 2009! Our analysis of the data was identical to the 2008 analysis. Here we go...

Distribution of Wineries by Gallons Sold

What we did was break down production into 6 different categories. Each category is basically a range of annual gallons produced. We then figured out how many wineries fall into each category.

Distribution of Wineries by "Craft" Designation

We have been using the term "craft winery" to identify wineries that produce less than 25,000 gallons per year. This is also a requirement to be eligible as a full regular member of the FWWS. Here's how wineries in WA state break down by whether or not they are a "craft" winery.

Actual Gallons Sold by "Craft" Winery Threshold

OK, so now we know how many wineries in WA state would be considered a "craft" winery. The following data and graph show you how many actual gallons of wine are produced annually by craft wineries versus non-craft wineries.


So there you have it: 94.04% of the wineries in WA state would be considered a "craft" winery, a little bit more than in 2008. A general trend continues: the other 6% of the wineries (non-craft wineries) produce about 93% of the actual gallons per year. And once again, 1 winery tops the scale at producing 13 million gals. annually. The next biggest winery only produces approximately 1.1 millions gals. annually. Finally, the total number of wineries grew from 547 to 671.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Response to WA Wine Institute’s Anti-I-1100 Misstatements

Recently, the WA Wine Institute’s views about Initiative 1100 were circulated to our state’s wineries and vineyards and suggested that the proposed new law would be detrimental to the Washington wine industry.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Passage of I-1100 will be the greatest legal development for the Washington wine industry since the repeal of Prohibition. The WWI’s arguments are based on keeping control of the industry in the hands of the established producers and large distributors – not in the hands of the rest of us in the wine business. We at Family Wineries of Washington State find the WWI’s stance counter-productive to free and fair competition – and we lose in the process. The WWI wants to keep existing so called “protections” against credit and discounts that limit the growth of the Washington wine industry and punish wine consumers (our customers) with lower quality, higher prices and poorer selection. Support the public’s right to choose what is best for them over narrow special interests. Vote for wine freedom by voting for I-1100.

And what about Initiative 1105, which is sponsored by two huge out of state distributors?

The WWI is silent about 1105 even though it would send the Washington wine industry back to the dark ages. I- 1105 expands big distributor monopoly power and repeals many of the gains achieved over the past fifty years. Don’t let big distributors and a few wineries that are doing well under the current system foil the best chance we have to free the grapes (and breweries and distilleries) in Washington State from unjust and unfair laws.

Remember, YES on 1100; NO on 1105! Support economic growth and wine consumers instead of special interests.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I-1100 Brings Common Sense to Liquor Laws

An excellent editorial from "Puget Sound Business Journal" with regards to 1100.

Remember to vote YES on 1100 and NO on 1105!

Sad News - John Powers from Chuckanut Ridge Wine Company Passed Away

We are sad to report a death in the wine industry, John Powers from Chuckanut Ridge Wine Company has passed away.

You can find details about the event celebrating John's life at

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Ray's 2010 Summer Tasting Photos

The photos from the Ray's Summer tasting are now available on our site at

We have some great pics of the winemakers, the venue, and some wonderful guest portraits and candids. Visit the photos and see if you can find yourself! Feel free to download the images and to share with your friends.

To all the guests who visited, thanks very much for supporting our org, we hope you had a great time, and we would love to see you at our next event.

Monday, August 2, 2010

HR 5034 and the Consequences

No Wine Shall Be Served Before Its Time - At Least Not Without Wholesalers Taking a Cut

An excellent analysis of the economic issues.

Sadly, HR 5034 is backed by the same huge beer distributors who oppose Initiative 1100 in Washington State and sponsor Initiative 1105. Remember to vote YES on 1100 and NO on 1105!

Welcome New Member Convergence Zone Cellars

I am pleased to welcome our newest member, Convergence Zone Cellars, to the FWWS. Here is some information on them:

Where two prevailing flows meet & interact, resulting in distinctive weather conditions.

A new Washington State winery where red grape varietals meet and interact, resulting in distinctive, handcrafted wines.

Welcome to the org!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Ray's Part Troix

Northwest Totem Cellars pouring their Qo-nē.

John Bell from Willis Hall Winery drinks wine double-fisted.

Queen Anne Winery just released 07 Sangiovese.

Stomani Cellars and their awesome Chard.

SYZYGY displaying their 2007 Syrah which was a Wine Spectator 93!

Paul Beveridge and his better half Lysle serving 2 new wines from their new vineyard, a white blend and a port. Oh yeah, he's the prez of FWWS!

Posted using BlogPress from the traveling FWWS iPhone.

Location:Seaview Ave NW,Seattle,United States

Ray's Continued

Tim Narby pouring his excellent Una Notte red.

Masquerade Wine Company and their superlative Effervescent Elephant!

Medicine Creek Winery and their award winning Stage Coach Bordeaux blend.

Dana Madsen from Madsen Family Cellars proudly displaying his Cab Franc and Cab Sauv. Delicious!

Matt from ANIMALE exhibiting his extraordinary 2008 Cab Franc.

Lost River Winery pouring excellent Pinot Gris.

Posted using BlogPress from the traveling FWWS iPhone.

Location:Seaview Ave NW,Seattle,United States

FWWS at Ray's Boathouse!

The FWWS summer tasting event at Ray's is underway! The sky is blue with nary a cloud. The location and view are superb and a wonderful ocean breeze is keeping our guests cool. And of course the wine is excellent and matched by outstanding food.

Let's take a tour of the facility and the FWWS wineries that are pouring this evening...

Bob Delf from Northwest Cellars pouring his super wine.

Edmonds Winery out of Woodinville pouring a Sauvignon and a red.

Jim from Lowden Hills Winery showing off his new super Tuscan.

Paradisos del Sol and their superlative rosé.

Posted using BlogPress from the traveling FWWS iPhone.

Location:Seaview Ave NW,Seattle,United States

Saturday, July 24, 2010

FWWS on Facebook and Now Blogging Mobile!

Once again your web-ninja Alex Sloley is deploying cool new technology for FWWS!

We already have these awesome publishing features:

Blog posting capability

Blog RSS and feed on home page

Simul-post on Twitter

Simul-email of blog posts

Now we also have:

A Facebook page at where all blog posts are simul-posted

The ability to multimedia blog post via iPhone

In fact, this post was created on the mobile FWWS iPhone!

Enjoy the new features and go to our new Facebook page today...

Posted using BlogPress from the traveling FWWS iPhone.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Wineries Rate Their Distributors

Check out this article on Wines & Vines about a new website that allows vintners to vent about no-pay, slow-pay.

Welcome New Industry Member Vintners Global Resource, LLC

I am pleased to welcome our newest industry member, Vintners Global Resource, LLC, to the FWWS. Here is some information on them:

Vintners Global Resource, LLC was founded with the vision of becoming the preferred supplier of imported wine bottles and packaging to the Pacific Northwest Wine Industry. This singular commitment to the wine industry keeps our energies solely focused on your success.

We are a family owned and operated company with offices in Tacoma, Yakima and Grandview, Washington. Our decisions are made locally, promptly and by people who care about your success. Our local industry knowledge and world-class service ensure that your orders will arrive as expected.

Our founders and company team members have many years of experience in the U.S. wine and perishable food industries. We understand your concerns and will meet your requirements with integrity, quality products, fair value and high service levels that you can count on.

Our sourcing, quality control, supply-chain management, inventory management and high standards for customer service levels have been market proven with the many years of success of our affiliated company, SGS Hardware.

We supply and deliver to you the right product at the right time so you can focus on your winery business. At Vintners Global Resource, we are fanatical about reliability and obsessive about high-quality customer service.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve you.

Welcome to the org!

Family Wineries Respond to Mega-Distributor Arguments about Initiative 1100

Giant beer distributors have been circulating ugly and false rumors about the impact of Initiative 1100 on small wineries. The following red rebuttals respond to the mega-distributor arguments:

When liquor goes private via 1100, wineries that are small will get squished like bugs.

No, we will nimbly step out of the way as we always have. Small wineries will rarely be successful competing directly with the big boys. With 1100, we will be free to compete in many new ways and win the way we always have, by being local and providing better, more interesting products, service and convenience.

Distributors will be beholden to large spirit companies that sell wine and spirits. Say Gallo, Diageo and constellation.

The Washington State Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association is dominated by huge out of state distributors. Small wineries do not operate on the same level as larger spirit companies or giant distributors. Small to medium size distributors and wineries (and breweries and distilleries) will gain many competitive advantages due to the freedom and increased market offered by 1100.

The big local players will have money to buy the wine lists and cut exclusive deals.

Not if it results in any real damage (exclusion). These sorts of hard-core business practices are already illegal under other state and federal laws (e.g. the antitrust laws). And who cares if national mega-restaurant chains make exclusive deals with commodity wine producers? That’s not where small wineries sell their products anyhow. Small restaurants and retailers will benefit from the freedom to compete provided by 1100, which means there will be more places to sell Washington wine.

The shelf space in stores for wine will decrease as liquor will take 25 percent of the space.

Only at stores with poor selection that are willing to lose wine consumers as customers. Under 1100, demand for wine will increase because wine will be less expensive due to removal of unnecessary economic regulation (law of supply and demand) more than making up for any potential loss due to spirits becoming more convenient.

The selection of wine will decline as grocery stores buy from a central warehouse in full cases and the pack out means less selection.

Maybe for some commodity wines, but no way for small wineries. When Alberta privatized it’s provincial liquor stores, selection quadrupled throughout the province. Free market forces maximize selection. The existing regulations greatly limit selection.

Fly down to southern California and take a look.

Southern California is a relative fine wine desert for a number of reasons, none of which have to do with California’s liquor laws. We prefer to look at northern California where the same free market laws apply and wine flourishes along with great small restaurants and small retail shops. The customer base for small Washington wineries is much more sophisticated than the customer base in southern California and will continue to demand more and better wines than do Hollywood starlets. The biggest reason we support 1100 is that it will be great for wine consumers (price and selection will improve) and small wineries always win when they put their customers ahead of narrow special interests.

Deregulation squeezes small players. That’s why in London all the pubs have the same beer selection, they are paid by brewers.

You go to the wrong pubs. London is full of great pubs with great beer selections, just like France. Spain, Italy, and other free nations are full of great wineries, wine shops and restaurants. Plus, tied houses will remain illegal under federal law. 1100 is not going to get rid of vapid sports bars where brainwashed soccer louts swill the most heavily advertised national yellow beers. But 1100 will make it easier for good pubs and restaurants in Washington state to sell more wine and stay in business. Deregulation frees small players to compete with all their skills and inherent advantages of size while enlarging the overall wine market for everyone. Let’s give Washington state the perfect legal climate for wine!

Protect your family winery and check this out.

Embrace freedom and promote the common good over special interests by voting yes on 1100 (and no on 1105).

Your friend Dan from a mega-distributor

Your friends of small wineries and the public at Family Wineries of Washington State

Benefit shows set up for injured Bellingham business owner

Dear FWWS Member,

The following article appeared in a Bellingham Herald article on July 20th and concerns a serious injury suffered by one of our fellow wine makers. Please forward this posting to any in the industry you may know who would be interested in helping John and his family.

Benefit shows set up for injured Bellingham business owner


The FWWS Board

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Welcome New Member Otis Kenyon Winery

I am pleased to welcome our newest member, Otis Kenyon Winery, to the FWWS. Here is some information on them:

Otis Kenyon Wine is a family owned and managed winery with deep historical ties to the Walla Walla Valley. We handcraft limited quantities of elegantly structured and affordable Bordeaux and Rhone varietal wines from our estate and other proven Walla Walla Valley vineyards.

In tribute to four generations of Otis Kenyons, the family has returned to the Walla Walla Valley with a passion for time-honored winemaking, an unyielding commitment to excellence and a dedication to sustainable and bio-diverse viticultural practices.

Welcome to the org!

Welcome New Member Masquerade Winery

I am pleased to welcome our newest member, Masquerade Winery, to the FWWS. Here is some information on them:

Handcrafting fine Red Mountain Estate and vineyard-designate wines in the heart of Washington Wine Country. Our mission is to make wines that bring enjoyment and celebration to life.

Laissez les bons vins verser!

Welcome to the org!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Feedback to Initiative 1100

Family Wineries of Washington State has received lots of feedback, both positive and negative, from member and non-member wineries about Initiative 1100. Listening to the views of member and non-member wineries is very important to FWWS. We understand that some wineries in Washington State (including a significant minority of FWWS members) believe that there are benefits to wineries under the current legal system -- namely the prohibition on volume discounts and the prohibition on offering credit -- that are worth preserving. We have studied these issues carefully for many years and discussed them with legal and economic experts. Our research and these experts have convinced us that these economic restrictions cause more harm than good.

While some individual wineries may feel they benefit from the ban on discounts and credit, there is no doubt that these restrictions limit innovation and the growth of the Washington wine industry as a whole. The restrictions reduce available capital, favor large distributors, and are unfair to retailers, winegrowers and, most importantly, wine consumers. No other industry in Washington State operates under such a paternalistic system. While I-1100 may not perfectly represent all the best interests of the wine industry, the Board believes that the opportunity presented by this convergence of political, economic, and electoral forces will not occur again and must, when weighing the freedoms and opportunities gained against the special treatments lost, be embraced.

Initiative 1100 presents an extraordinary opportunity for our industry. FWWS, while advocating for a comprehensive separation of economic regulation from public safety regulation under the liquor code, has for three years proposed bills in Olympia which offered either significant compromises on major issues such as credit (example: our Payment Parity bill) or voluntary exemption of wineries from restrictions on trade (example: our Craft Wineries bill). Each and every proposal has been rebuffed, without any offer of compromise, by both the Washington Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association, and the Washington Wine Institute. In light of this sustained and uncompromising opposition, the opportunity posed by Initiative 1100 could not be ignored by FWWS. The drafters of Initiative 1100 chose to achieve the privatization of liquor sales in Washington - a proposal that polls show is extremely popular with voters - by comprehensively removing the state from both the sale of alcohol and the economic regulation of the sale of alcohol on behalf of special interests. For those who believe that the "protections" in the existing law are in their own self interest, the question presented by initiative 1100 is this: Are these features of the current law, on balance, worth preserving if doing so will jeopardize the best chance we may see in our lifetimes for ending the invasive and stifling day to day control of our private economic affairs by the Liquor Board? While I-1100 may not perfectly represent all the perceived interests of every winery, the Board of FWWS believes that the opportunity presented by the convergence of political, economic, and electoral forces in 1100 must be embraced. The freedoms to be gained outweigh the special treatment to be lost.

We believe it is time for the Washington wine industry to loosen the shackles of the past and embrace a new era of fair competition and growth. We firmly believe that small wineries and small retailers have the most to gain from the flexibility that Initiative 1100 will provide. Small wineries and retailers have never been able to fight toe to toe with the big companies and the current law unfairly favors large distributors. Initiative 1100 will provide small wineries and retailers with more flexibility to find the niches of profitability the big companies leave behind and that small wineries and retailers have long exploited by being more nimble and providing better quality, selection and location than the makers and sellers of commodity wines. A free market is the only truly level playing field.

For too long, every time a winery thinks of a new way to sell Washington wine, the winery has had to go to the legislature for an exception from the existing law. We respect that others may have different opinions but we think that passage of Initiative 1100 will be the best legal development since the California Wine Act was passed by the legislature in 1968. The California Wine Act created the modern Washington wine industry by allowing the sale of California wine in Washington State stores and restaurants. The passage of Initiative 1100 represents a similar watershed opportunity for Washington State wineries (and breweries and distilleries). We hope all of you will come to share our view that the passage of Initiative 1100 is a huge opportunity to take all of our wineries to the next level.

Again, we thank those of you who have taken the time to express your views.

How Initiative 1100 Helps Wineries

1)Initiative 1100 is unique among the current proposals for liquor store privatization in that it comprehensively removes the state from not only the business of selling alcohol, but of regulating the economic aspects of alcohol trade as well. As such it is arguably the most fundamentally important and positive change in Washington state liquor law since the repeal of Prohibition. 1100 will get state bureaucrats out of winery front offices and re-focus the Liquor Board's limited resources on public safety and tax collection.

2) "Money's Worth Restrictions." Current law prevents a winery from giving any money or thing of monetary value to its customers, including credit (a loan of money), joint advertising, personal gifts and many ordinary customer service functions. 1100 removes these restrictions.
  • Credit. 1100 would end the current preferential treatment for wholesalers (allowed to ask wineries for credit terms) and allow wineries to set their own credit policies for all their licensed customers. Wineries will be able to, at their discretion, use their valuable inventories as readymade credit facilities which are bank free, application free, and cost free to the winery. The availability of additional credit will expand economic activity in the Washington wine business exactly the way it does in every other business. Even wineries who choose to extend only short-term credit will be able avoid the current hassle of standing around waiting for a check from a trusted client.

  • Advertising. Under 1100 wineries will no longer be prevented from engaging in targeted win-win co-promotions with their retail customers to showcase their wines. No longer will wineries have to go to the legislature to ask for permission to take advantage of every new idea or development in advertising and promotion that comes along.

  • Gifts. Under 1100 wineries will no longer be prevented from exploiting the strength of their personal relationships with clients. It will no longer be illegal for you to give someone who sells your wine a book, a dinner, or a special bottle of wine. Excessive gifts will still be subject to the commercial trade laws against bribery.

  • Customer service. Under 1100 you will be allowed to direct customers to specific stores, perhaps for a special sale event or to find sold out wines. Likewise such stores could advertise availability of long sold out wines on your website and unclutter their shelves. These are just a few of countless examples of ordinary and customary business practices prohibited under the current law that would be allowed under 1100.

3) 1100 will eliminate the extremely limited exceptions to tied house ownership rules passed into law in 2009, exceptions that require separate companies and stock ownership as the only acceptable forms of investment.

4) Opponents of 1100 argue that it will increase pressure for wine giveaways such as sales incentives, underwriting of advertising, promotional material giveaways etc. Asking for those items is not fundamentally different from the bargaining that already goes on. Whether a retailer asks for a lower bottle price or the cost of some advertisement, it is the same to the winery.

5) Opponents of 1100 argue that it will lead to uncompetitive strong-arm practices such as coercion, threats of product withdrawal, exclusive marketing etc. The current state and national legal system already contains safeguards under the antitrust, fair trade, and consumer protection laws that make illegal the egregious economic activities that opponents claim will be allowed.

6) Passage of 1100 would give Washington the best wine laws in the country and thereby make available a competitive advantage to Washington wineries not available to other states until they revise their own laws. California’s laws have many of the benefits of 1100 already and small wineries are doing fine there.

7) Without hindering public safety, 1100 would make it easier for wineries by themselves and with other members of the industry to market their wine. This will increase wine sales.

8) The independent state auditor’s report concludes that 1100 will raise revenue for the state, putting less pressure on the legislature to raise taxes on wine for revenue.

Passage of 1100 will allow Washington wineries to unleash their full competitive strength and innovative creativity. FWWS truly believes that 1100 will greatly increase the long term potential for success in our industry. Embrace the future and fair competition by supporting I-1100!

How Initiative 1100 Helps Consumers

• The State of Washington should not be in the liquor sales business – it’s the only consumer product the state sells. Passage of I-1100 will provide wineries with a free and fair market for wine in Washington State for the first time in history.

• I-1000 would allow consumers to make decisions regarding the spirits, beer and wine they buy instead of state bureaucrats. It would repeal blue laws which remain on the books only as a throwback to a century ago when prohibition was the order of the day: we have gone way beyond that as a population.

• We would have better wines at lower prices – with private businesses able to offer bargains for larger orders. There are only 18 states remaining that have liquor controlled by their states – 32 have privatized sales of liquor.

• Currently there is a three- tiered system of liquor in Washington; the people who make the wine must be separated from the customer at the retail level by an additional middle man who is the distributor. These large distributors have built a legal system based on their own economic self interest rather than the interests of consumers. This initiative would take out that mandatory middle man and remove the complex restrictions on the way wineries sell wine that are contained in the current special interest driven liquor code, allowing the industry to move forward under a more open and fair system.

• I-1100 does not reduce state liquor taxes; the state will not lose money under I-1100, in fact it will reduce expenditures by the state at a time when the state budget is strapped.

• I-1100 does not change the public safety provisions of the liquor code at all. The state will still control all the public safety aspects of liquor, something that all of us agree is of utmost importance.

• Wineries are restricted in hundreds of ways that interfere with the marketing of wine – from limitations on advertising and promotion of wine; to bans on volume discounts and extension of credit to their wholesale customers (distributors are exempted from this ban). These restrictions are so broad that they prevent things as simple as re-filling recycled containers and printing wine lists for restaurants. The current regulations prohibit many business practices that are perfectly legal for other products and have nothing to do with public safety.

• For years family wineries have been working with the state legislature and the Washington Liquor Control Board to change these laws. To date the progress has been frustrating and time-consuming with little real change; we are still living with Prohibition-era mentality where protectionism rules and the free market do not apply. People may tell you that Initiative 1100 will hurt the protections built into the law for smaller wineries and breweries, but nothing could be further from the truth. Our small wineries will flourish when they can finally put their creativity, marketing and consumer relationships to work directly with the people who are doing the buying.

Response to the WWI on Initiative 1100

First and foremost, Initiative 1100 will repeal outdated laws that don’t pertain to any other industry. Here in Washington, forestry, aeronautics, software, and even other agricultural products thrive without such “protections” from competition.

  • Being able to sell wine on credit is a good thing. There is a reason why every other consumer good in this state is sold on the credit principle. A reputable retailer or restaurant isn’t going to default on its credit otherwise it will lose out on all of the other business credit that it uses. A questionable retailer or restaurant doesn’t have the bargaining power to not pay on delivery. Having credit as an option gives more opportunity for a wine seller to increase their output as there will be more capital available for retailers to buy wine. The availability of credit also allows for more efficient billing and delivery, i.e. no waiting for a check unless you want to. Furthermore, allowing wineries to extend credit to customers other than wholesalers will allow those wineries to tap the equity in their inventories as a credit facility without having to go through a bank.


  • Being able to make volume discounts is a good thing. Many companies operate on this principle because it increases their volume of sales as well as cutting other marginal costs like transportation. Wineries often give a case discount to their wine club customers to encourage larger sales. They should be able to do the same with retailers and sell more wine to them. This is based on the law of supply and demand.

  • Retailers can’t run an advertisement and send a winery a bill for the cost under the initiative. What Initiative 1100 does is give producers more of an ability to advertise if they want to.

  • Printing menus is just a cost of doing business that already exists. If the restaurant pays the cost, they increase the price of the wines on their list to compensate. If the winery pays the cost, it increases the cost of its wine to compensate, and in turn the restaurant increases the cost of its services to compensate. In the end it comes out the same. A winery should be allowed to help retailers with menus if they want to.

  • Providing branded promotional items is currently legal in all other industries and how often does it happen? The wineries just fought for and received the right to provide such items to their wholesale customers. Retailers don’t have the power to make ridiculous demands on wine makers anymore than they do in any other industry. A winery should be allowed to provide a promotional item to a retailer if they want to.

The bottom line is that removing these restrictions will only help to give the Washington wine industry more options and opportunities to make money, get our wine out to more people, increase the demand for wine, and innovate. How much benefit do you derive from these so called “protections” and how many great ideas do you have to give up on every year because you are not allowed to give “anything of monetary value” to your customers?

The examples that the WWI provides are blown out of proportion to create an atmosphere of unreasonable fear. 1100 offers us the best opportunity to fix the wine laws in Washington State and take control of our own business destiny. We should embrace the future and support I-1100!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Regarding Members-Only Wine Event at Ray's Boathouse July 29th - Important Changes

Dear FWWS member,

Following our announcement of the Ray's event and blog posting, we were contacted by Captain Jennifer Skoda of the Washington State Liquor Control Board in regard to the $50 table fee we set for the event. She has indicated that this fee is an illegal extension of money from distributors (you) to a retailer (FWWS, who will be selling your wines at the wine store). Rather than trying to create a complicated work-around we have decided to concentrate our efforts on passage of initiative 1100 which would eliminate these silly "money's worth" restrictions from the statutes.

The Good News for you is that registration for the event will now be free to all member wineries. At the present time, we still have a few spaces available but we suggest you register immediately as the fee elimination should make entry even more attractive. As part of the reason for the table fee was for place-holding, please do not register for the event and reserve a space if you are not committed to being there.

One final note, many of you had agreed to provide a volunteer in lieu of your registration fee. We still need the help so please let us know if elimination of the fee will change your willingness to bring help. We will be contacting you soon with details on ticket sales so we can start advertising the event.

Thank you.

The Board

Initiative 1100 Update

Dear FWWS Member,

Family Wineries of Washington State supports Initiative 1100 and urges you and your winery to do so as well. We are trying to collect as many signatures for the initiative as possible by the July 2nd deadline. Many wineries have no doubt run into questions from their patrons regarding this initiative and we have produced several documents that help to answer these questions.

This one lets consumers know how the initiative will benefit them and the small wineries they love.

This one highlights the benefits for you and your winery.

This one rebuts points raised in the email from the Washington Wine Institute that many of you have received.

Many wineries have already decided to have petitions at their tasting room but we still need more wineries on board. If you have access to a printer that can print 11"x17" then feel free to print the petition directly here. Please note: smaller formats are not acceptable to the Secretary of State, also it must be printed on both sides. You can mail it to us at 600 Stewart St Suite 1300, Seattle, WA 98101 . If you need us to send you petition forms, please let us know as soon as possible how many signatures you estimate your winery could gather in the coming weeks and we will send you the appropriate number of official Initiative 1100 petitions.

We urge you to do everything you can to support Initiative 1100.

The Board of Family Wineries of Washington State

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Welcome New Member Knight Hill Winery

I am pleased to welcome our newest member, Knight Hill Winery, to the FWWS. Here is some information on them:

In 2010 we will release a varietal Mourvedre, a varietal Syrah, a Bordeaux style Red Blend and the second edition of Roundtable Red. We will also complement our Dry Riesling and Chardonnay with a 2009 Sauvignon Blanc.

Our picnic area and patio will be ready for your al fresco folicking. The view remains the same: Fabulous!!

We are walking distance to a vineyard cottage rental and also to a first class hilltop B & B.

Welcome to the org!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Initiative 1100

Dear FWWS Member,

Family Wineries of Washington State urges you and your winery to support Initiative 1100. With Costco now backing Initiative 1100, we have a real chance to free the grapes (and beer and spirits) in Washington state from unnecessary and counter-productive economic regulation. Passage of Initiative 1100 would require the Liquor Board to focus on public safety and education and get the Liquor Board out of economic activity that should be handled by private enterprise in a free democracy. Polls show that Washington voters overwhelmingly support Initiative 1100. We know some wineries think the laws left over from the repeal of Prohibition provide them with some valuable protections against competition. But the benefits to all (including grape growers, wineries, distributors, retailers and consumers) of implementing a free market in wine (and beer and spirits) in Washington state greatly outweigh the minor benefits of these antiquated “protections.” FWWS has pledged to help Costco and the Initiative drafters, Modernize Washington, gather signatures on the Initiative 1100 petitions. The rest of this message describes how you can help our effort to give Washington The Perfect Legal and Economic Climate for Wine!

The first step to passing Initiative 1100 is gathering at least 250,000 signatures on official Initiative Petition forms by July 6. Costco will gather signatures at its stores, but the wine industry needs to do its part as well. We ask that you accept signatures at your winery tasting room and anywhere else you are likely to meet Washington state registered voters. If you have access to a printer that can print 11"x17" then feel free to print the petition directly from the link below. If you need us to send you petition forms, please let us know as soon as possible how many signatures you estimate your winery could gather in the next month and we will send you the appropriate number of official Initiative 1100 petitions.

FWWS is also seeking monetary contributions for further funding of our Initiative effort. Please let us know by return e-mail if you or your customers are interested in providing financial support to FWWS’s efforts to pass Initiative 1100.

We urge you to do everything you can to support Initiative 1100.

The Board of Family Wineries of Washington State

I-1100 Petition

Tips Regarding Signature Gathering

Monday, May 24, 2010

FWWS 2010 Summer Tasting at Ray's Boathouse Update

Dear FWWS members,

We recently announced the plans for our 2010 FWWS Summer Tasting Event at Ray's Boathouse on beautiful Shilshole Bay in Seattle. This pouring opportunity is open to FWWS members only.

We encourage you to sign up ASAP because the tables are going fast and you don't want to miss this opportunity!

The event will be from 5:30 to 8:30 on Thursday, July 29th. Attendance will be limited to 150 guests. Ray's catering will be providing appetizers to accompany our wines. The entry fee will be $45, which should be an attractive price point. We plan to be pouring wine in our brand new FWWS Riedel tasting glasses which should show your wine at its best. If you have not been there, this is a beautiful venue on one of the statistically best weather days of the year.


Registration will be limited to 24 wineries on a first-come first-served basis. Pouring wine will be donated by the winery. There will be a wine store for wine sales for which you will be paid 70% of your suggested selling price.

One final item, FWWS has purchased event insurance to cover members acting on behalf of the organization. Since pouring will be by members-only this means that no special proof of event insurance will be required from you. We want to point out once again that this insurance in no way takes the place of separate festival liability insurance which is part of your winery liability policy and protects you and your business.

We think this will be a great opportunity for members to show their wines in a very favorable way within this important market. Don't wait to sign up!

Go to this link to sign up now!

The FWWS Board

PS: Please post the details of the event on your calendar of events, e-mails, newsletters, tweets, etc. at your earliest convenience and even if you are unable to attend. This is a fundraiser for FWWS and helps to keep your dues low which we know is important to you. Thanks.

Welcome New Associate Member Hansen & Hansen, LLC

I am pleased to welcome our newest associate member, Hansen & Hansen, LLC to the FWWS. Here is some information on them:

Doc & Sonie Hansen make up Hansen & Hansen LLC. We are winery agents dedicated to promoting small production Washington wineries. We love pouring at festivals and wine events.
We appreciate what FWWS is doing and are pleased to be part of the group. Contact us at hansen-hansen[at]

Welcome to the org!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Initiative 1100

You have probably heard about the various initiatives being proposed to privatize liquor sales in Washington state. Your hard working FWWS Board has been examining all of them and believes that there is one (and only one) which should receive the whole-hearted support of small family wineries: Initiative 1100. This initiative would accomplish much of what FWWS has been fighting for in the legislature. It would require the Liquor Board to focus on public safety and get out of the economy. In addition to privatizing liquor sales, the bill would also remove the economic restraints holding back the Washington beer and wine industries. The other initiatives either do not include wine or would actually be a step in the wrong direction. (There are some who believe that one of the initiatives was secretly drafted by the big beer wholesalers in an effort to confuse the public.) A copy of Initiative 1100 is linked for your review. The best and most important provisions from a winery standpoint are found in sections 6 and 25. Please provide us with your comments and suggestions at your earliest convenience. The initiative process is going to move very quickly. Please let us know if you would like copies of the I-1100 petition so that you can collect signatures from your customers and friends. We urge you to do everything you can to support Initiative 1100 and free the grapes in Washington state!

Initiative Measure No. 1100

Comparison of Liquor Initiatives

Thursday, April 29, 2010

FWWS 2010 Summer Tasting at Ray's Boathouse!

Dear FWWS members,

We are delighted to inform you that our 2010 FWWS Summer Tasting Event will be at Ray's Boathouse on beautiful Shilshole Bay in Seattle. This pouring opportunity is open to FWWS members only.

The event will be from 5:30 to 8:30 on Thursday, July 29th. Attendance will be limited to 150 guests. Ray's catering will be providing appetizers to accompany our wines. The entry fee will be $45, which should be an attractive price point. We plan to be pouring wine in our brand new FWWS Riedel tasting glasses which should show your wine at its best. If you have not been there, this is a beautiful venue on one of the statistically best weather days of the year.


Registration will be limited to 24 wineries on a first-come first-served basis. Pouring wine will be donated by the winery. There will be a wine store for wine sales for which you will be paid 70% of your suggested selling price.

One final item, FWWS has purchased event insurance to cover members acting on behalf of the organization. Since pouring will be by members-only this means that no special proof of event insurance will be required from you. We want to point out once again that this insurance in no way takes the place of separate festival liability insurance which is part of your winery liability policy and protects you and your business.

We think this will be a great opportunity for members to show their wines in a very favorable way within this important market. Don't wait to sign up!

Go to this link to sign up now!

The FWWS Board

PS: Please post the details of the event on your calendar of events, e-mails, newsletters, tweets, etc. at your earliest convenience and even if you are unable to attend. This is a fundraiser for FWWS and helps to keep your dues low which we know is important to you. Thanks.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

HR 5034 Comprehensive Alcohol Regulatory Effectiveness (CARE) Act of 2010

Proposed legislation ( recently introduced in the US Congress would offer federal backing to anti-competitive and discriminatory state alcohol beverage laws. Supported by the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA), this damaging bill would give wholesalers the ability to use state law to insulate themselves from competition. Family Wineries of Washington State (FWWS) strongly opposes this effort.

NBWA’s legislation would, without any justification, allow states considering alcohol beverage measures to virtually ignore the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution and federal law in all but the narrowest circumstances. This is a dangerous precedent, since courts and Congress historically have struck a careful balance, when considering state alcohol laws, between the Twenty-first Amendment (that gives states authority over the importation, transportation, and delivery of alcohol within their borders) and other parts of the Constitution.

By seeking a blunt reconfiguration of the relationship between the Constitution and state alcohol laws, NBWA is asking Congress to put a thumb on the scale in favor of their monopoly distribution system. The proposed legislation, while couched as addressing public safety and states’ rights, is merely a smoke screen for a power grab by beer wholesalers that would stunt competition, reverse years of long-established judicial precedent, and severely limit consumer choice. Not surprisingly, the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) weighed-in in support of this ill-conceived proposed legislation ( which, if passed, could severely curtail the ability of wineries to direct-ship wines.

FWWS will be preparing a statement in opposition to this legislation soon and will transmit it to our legislators in Washington, D.C. In addition we encourage each of our members as well as all wineries and wine industry members to individually contact your legislative representatives to strongly oppose HR5034. We also encourage each of our members and all wine industry members to visit the many on-line discussions and voice your opposition to this proposed legislation:


Free the Grapes

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Welcome New Industry Member Cork Supply Group

I am pleased to welcome our newest industry member, Cork Supply Group, to the FWWS. Here is some information on them:

Cork Supply USA is the leading supplier of natural cork in the United States. With our patented Innocork technology for TCA removal we can supply superior product at competitive prices. Combine that product with a dedicated sales consultant and you have yourself a dependable supply chain to ensure more fluid production and a higher quality total package for your customers.

Natural cork isn't our only specialty however. We also represent high quality product lines such as Rivercap USA tin capsules and polylaminate, Nomacorc USA synthetics, Newpak USA screw caps, and Cork Supply's own cooperage Tonnellerie O.

Welcome to the org!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Welcome New Member Lowden Hills Winery

I am pleased to welcome our newest member, Lowden Hills Winery, to the FWWS. Here is some information on them:

Lowden Hills Winery, owned and operated by Jim and Sonja Henderson, is a small, family owned winery nestled in the picturesque Walla Walla Valley. Our distinctive wines are handcrafted in small lots, blended for complexity and depth of flavor.

We use time-tested methods of winemaking and viticulture to assure you premium wines to be savored today and for many years to come.

Welcome to the org!

Monday, April 12, 2010

TTB Guidance on Personalized Labels

In recent months there has been some confusion as to what exactly is required by TTB when submitting a label with personalized information, whether it is for a wedding, a birthday, or etc. TTB has now clarified the requirements for personalization with the following release:


TTB understands that there is a growing market for alcohol beverage products that contain personalized information on the label. With the increase in demand in the market place for these types of products, TTB wants to provide the industry with clear guidance on our long-standing policies as they relate to personalized labeling.

Who must obtain label approval?

Importers and bottlers of alcohol beverage products are required to obtain a Certificate of Label Approval (COLA) for all products entering into commerce. See 27 U.S.C. 205(e). In addition, wholesalers must obtain a COLA for relabeling (labeling of bottled or packed tax-paid alcohol beverages) purposes in accordance with ATF Revenue Ruling 62-224. The COLA covers only labels displayed on the COLA form and allowable revisions as outlined in Section V of TTB F5100.31. However, for personalized labels it has been TTB’s long-standing policy to permit salutations, names, and congratulatory dates to change on the label, provided the specific information that may vary is described in detail in item number 19, the special wording section, on the COLA form.

How do I obtain a COLA and what does it cover?

A label containing personalized information must be attached to TTB F5100.31. Alterations to the salutation must be listed in item 19 of the application form or in the special wording section of the electronic application.

Example: A label application for a wedding is submitted on TTB F5100.31. The label states “Congratulations John and Jane”. Item number 19 of the application form states: salutations may change to include “Happy Anniversary,” “Happy Birthday,” “Best Wishes,” or other similar phrases. The names and dates listed will either be deleted or may change.

All intended salutations must be listed on the application form, or a new COLA form is required.

What is not covered?

Personalized label approvals cover the label attached and alternate salutations listed in item 19, the special wording section, only. Graphics are not permitted to change or be added without obtaining a new label approval. In addition, no personalized information may be in conflict with the Code of Federal Regulations parts 4, 5, 7, 9, 12, or 16. For example, labels may not include a name, graphic, pictorial, or emblem with represents a famous living person of public prominence, or existing private or public organization, if it is likely to mislead the consumer that the product has been endorsed, made, or used by, or produced for, or under the supervision of, or in accordance with the specifications of such individual or organization. See 27 CFR 4.39(a)(6), 5.42(a)(6), and 7.29(a)(6). Labels also may not contain American flags or emblems, misleading health claims, or other prohibited items as specified in 27 CFR 4.39, 5.42, and 7.29. This is not an all-inclusive list.

Monday, April 5, 2010

MIW Bulletins Introduction

The following e-mail was sent to the FWWS Board by Jennifer Skoda, the WSLCB Non-Retail Enforcement Captain:

I am writing to let you know that the Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB) has adopted an electronic alert system, entitled the MIW Bulletin, for periodically notifying non-retail licensees of issues of mutual concern. The WSLCB will issue the MIW Bulletin via e-mail.

Introducing the Electronic MIW Bulletin

The MIW Bulletin is in electronic format designed to target manufacturers, importers and wholesalers so that the WSLCB may quickly communicate with you about liquor regulation news that is relevant to your business.

Below are examples of times when we may issue an MIW Bulletin:
  • Recent decisions by the Board affecting your industry;
  • Emerging enforcement issues to bring to your attention;
  • Opportunities for you to weigh in on proposed rules affecting your industry;
  • Clarifying rules, laws or other issues where confusion exists.
Contact Information

The WSLCB does not currently maintain email addresses for most licensees. We are working through industry associations including the Wine Institute, the Family Wineries of Washington State, the Washington Brewers Guild, the Washington Beer and Wine Wholesalers, and the Distillery Representatives of Washington (DRAW) to reach you.

If you received this e-mail from the WSLCB, you don’t need to do anything. We have your e-mail address.

If this message was forwarded to you and you are interested in receiving future MIW Bulletins, please send the following information to the e-mail address below. Please put the term “MIW Bulletin” in the subject line.
  • Name of business
  • License #
  • Contact first and last name
  • E-mail address
Pease send this information via email to JS[at]

Coming Soon

We are creating a non-retail enforcement page on the WSLCB Enforcement Page. This page will host all MIW Bulletins, frequently asked questions, and other information that we hope you find informative and helpful. Look for the new site this May.

If you have questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at (360) 664-1639 or JS[at]


Jennifer Skoda
WSLCB Non-Retail Enforcement Captain