Monday, March 22, 2010

Rulemaking for Mandatory Alcohol Server Training (MAST)

Dear FWWS members,

The FWWS Board has recently reviewed rules proposed for adoption by the Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB) regarding Mandatory Alcohol Server Training (MAST). We will be sending a letter of support/no concern to the WSLCB regarding these proposed rules. It has come to our attention however that many of you may be unaware of an important aspect of this rulemaking.

The proposed rules focus on changes to training programs for MAST providers but include adoption of a rule requiring that servers at winery off-site tasting rooms obtain a class 12 or 13 server license. We did not oppose this rule for two reasons; First, FWWS makes a strong distinction between valid public safety regulations such as MAST requirements, which we support, and economic regulations restricting trade in wine, which we oppose. Second, this provision is already contained in state law. RCW 66.24.170 which recently expanded the number of off-site winery tasting rooms contains the following section:

(4) A domestic winery licensed under this section, at locations separate from any of its production or manufacturing sites, may serve samples of its own products, with or without charge, and sell wine of its own production at retail, provided that: (a) Each additional location has been approved by the board under RCW 66.24.010; (b) the total number of additional locations does not exceed two; (c) a winery may not act as a distributor at any such additional location; and (d) any person selling or serving wine at an additional location for on-premise consumption must obtain a class 12 or class 13 alcohol server permit. Each additional location is deemed to be part of the winery license for the purpose of this title. At additional locations operated by multiple wineries under this section, if the board cannot connect a violation of RCW 66.44.200 or 66.44.270 to a single licensee, the board may hold all licensees operating the additional location jointly liable. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to prevent a domestic winery from holding multiple domestic winery licenses.

As noted in section (d) above licensing pursuant to MAST is required in such tasting rooms. The proposed rulemaking formally adopts this existing "law" (RCW) into "rules" (Washington Administrative Code or WAC).

It is important to note that on-site tasting rooms (tasting rooms located at your bonded winery facility) always have been and continue to be exempt from MAST requirements. "Premises" licensed under Special Occasion Licenses (e.g. charitable events) are likewise exempt from MAST requirements.

We believe that MAST, like first aid and driver education training is something that is worth having as a pro-active tool, and recommend that all winery staff serving alcohol attend such a course. We urge those of you who serve in off-site tasting rooms who have not already taken such training to make plans to do so immediately and not to wait for the inevitable adoption of these rules. In Washington state, such training is offered by contractors and associations. These classes are widely available and economical. A list of providers can be found on the WSLCB website at the following link:

http://bit.ly/aiz3JV

If you have trouble locating an opportunity for MAST near you, or if you have any questions about this rulemaking, please contact us at board[at]familywineriesofwashington.org.

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