Monday, January 31, 2011


  1. FWWS Offered Opportunity for Input on Open Wine Commission Position
  2. All Proposed Bylaws Amendments Approved, Board Positions Open
  3. WSLCB Announces Compliance Checks at Wineries
FWWS Offered Opportunity to Comment on Open Wine Commission Position

Last summer, an FWWS board member contacted State Agriculture Director Dan Newhouse. He was asked whether, in his view, RCW 15.88 allowed for FWWS to make recommendations for his consideration when making Wine Commission appointments. He agreed that it did, but since he was required by the RCW to make recommendations that "seek to ensure as nearly as possible a balanced representation on the commission which would reflect the composition of the growers and wine producers throughout the state as to number of acres cultivated and amount of wine produced," he would have to take into account the level of production represented by FWWS wineries. We hope to meet with Secretary Newhouse this year to discuss our view that the Commission composition, with positions already reserved for large wineries, already accomplishes this. That said, Mr Newhouse's attitude is very open and positive.

Pursuant to these conversations and correspondence, the Agriculture Department has informed us that Position 11 of the Commission is presently open, due to a resignation. RCW 15.88 requires that this position be held by a licensed Washington wine distributor. We need to make recommendations on a replacement candidate by February 3. Please contact us if you have any suggestions as to candidates who you believe have a good understanding of the needs of small and self-distributed wineries with regard to the Commission's work of promoting Washington wine.

All Proposed Bylaws Amendments Approved, Board Positions Open

Thank you all for your responses to the recent bylaws vote. All proposed amendments were approved. With the proposed changes to the board structure, there are currently two Board vacancies. One is for the new "consumer" member and is open to Associate Members. The other is a vacant position open to any voting member of the organization. Please contact the Board if you would like to be considered for election to the board. Please be advised that, since our dues structure does not allow for regular paid staff, this is very much a working position rather than an honorarium or an advisory position, and requires significant attention, time, and willingness to actively participate. Uncle FWWS wants YOU!

WSLCB Announces Compliance Checks at Wineries

Captain Jennifer Dzubay, the chief compliance enforcement officer at the WSLCB, recently announced that the WSLCB will be conducting compliance checks, with an emphasis on winery and brewery premises, over the coming months. FWWS has consistently supported the notion that the WSLCB should focus its limited resources on enforcement and education relating to public safety goals, into which category this compliance focus clearly falls.

While you are not required to obtain Mandatory Alcohol Server Training (MAST) permits for your on-premise tasting room staff (Note: MAST permits are required for off-premise tasting room staff!), we strongly encourage you and all of your staff to participate in MAST training. Captain Dzubay's email follows in its entirety:

From: Dzubay, Jennifer
Sent: Friday, January 21, 2011 3:55 PM
Subject: WSLCB - Compliance Checks Announcement

Please be advised that for the next two months we will be conducting Compliance Checks at winery and brewery premises. All compliance checks will be conducted with a youthful-appearing minor operative, ages 18 to 20 years of age, using their valid WA state drivers license.

We conducted this last summer and had a 46% non-compliance rate. We hope through our educational efforts, whether it is the MAST program or the responsible sales video, that we see an increase in the compliance rate this year.

As an educational tool, I'm enclosing a copy of Checking WA State ID, as well as a link below with a short little video on Responsible Liquor Sales.

We encourage you and your employees to review the enclosed material to help educate and prepare yourselves for these checks. If you have additional questions, please contact your local Liquor Officer for clarification.

Thank you!

Welcome New Member Frenchman Hills Winery

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

The first commercial vintage of the Frenchman Hills Winery was the 2005 crop year with grapes from the Estate Owned Sentinel Gap Vineyards. Frenchman Hills Winery was licensed in January 2007.

Frenchman Hills Winery owner Norman Myrick and viticulturist/winemaker Larry Myrick take pride in the 100% varietally correct production. Focusing on the Ultra Premium Tier 1 and Premium Tier 2 full bodied red wines, the wine making style is a handcrafted fruit forward expression of the vineyard. The best grapes are hand selected for the Ultra Premium Tier 1 Program which includes Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah. The Premium Tier 2 Program includes Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Red Wine (a blend of 51% Merlot, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 15% Syrah).

Shortly after bottling in January 2007 the Winery had a limited release of the 2005 vintage. This limited release was for test marketing and for a blind judging by Wine Press Northwest of the Tier 1 Syrah and Tier 1 Merlot. The Spring 2007 Spring edition of Wine Press Northwest rated the Tier 1 Syrah as Excellent and the Tier 1 Merlot as Recommended. Even with the successful l test marketing and extremely high ratings of the very young red wines, the winemaker decided to place the 2005 vintage back for cellaring and proper aging.

Frenchman Hills Winery formally released the 2005 vintage in October 2009. The Tier 1 Syrah was submitted to the 2009 Tri Cities Wine Festival for its annual blind tasting and was awarded the Bronze Medal. The Tier 2 Red Wine was submitted to Wine Press Northwest for blind judging. The Red Wine received a Recommended rating and was written up in the 2009 Winter edition.

The Winery is self distributed by agents to high end restaurants, wine shops, destinations resorts and direct shipping to retail customers and club members.

Welcome to the org!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Senate Labor, Commerce & Consumer Protection Committee Public Hearing

FWWS has introduced 4 bills that have been referred to the Senate Labor, Commerce & Consumer Protection Committee:
  1. SB 5256 - Concerning wine shipments.
  2. SB 5257 - Concerning craft wine and wineries.
  3. SB 5258 - Concerning methods of payment for purposes of the alcohol beverage control statutes.
  4. SB 5259 - Concerning the tax payment and reporting requirements of small wineries.
The Labor, Commerce & Consumer Protection Committee is holding a public hearing next Thursday at 10 AM in Olympia (see information below). We encourage our members to attend and to testify before the committee.

We hope to see you there!

FWWS Board

Labor, Commerce & Consumer Protection - 1/27/2011 10:00 a.m.

Senate Full Committee
Senate Hearing Rm 4
J.A. Cherberg Building
Olympia, WA

Public Hearing:
  • SB 5156 - Concerning airport lounges under the alcohol beverage control act.
  • SB 5173 - Concerning the waiver of restaurant corkage fees.
  • SB 5285 - Concerning the issuance of liquor licenses for businesses located near schools.
  • SB 5302 - Modifying liquor permit and licensing provisions.
  • SB 5256 - Concerning wine shipments.
  • SB 5257 - Concerning craft wine and wineries.
  • SB 5258 - Concerning methods of payment for purposes of the alcohol beverage control statutes.
  • SB 5259 - Concerning the tax payment and reporting requirements of small wineries.
Possible executive session on bills heard in committee. Other business.

If you plan to visit the Capitol Campus in Olympia, please keep in mind parking is very limited. For directions, maps and information regarding parking and free shuttle service please see:

Thursday, January 20, 2011

New Washington State Liquor Control Board Website

The WSLCB released this Manufacturer, Importer, Wholesaler (MIW) Bulletin today:

Date: January 20, 2011
To: Industry Members
From: Brian E. Smith, Communications Director
Subject: New Washington State Liquor Control Board Website

On Friday January 21, 2011, the Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB) is scheduled to launch an entirely new website. We hope and expect that the new site will better serve our customers and others seeking information from us online. While the WSLCB will maintain its existing domain on the internet (, some of your existing bookmarks may break. Please update all bookmarks once the new site is online.

The new site includes features requested by many of the nearly 500 visitors who took an online survey earlier in 2010.

Website Features

The new site will feature online:
  • Maps and directions to store locations powered by Google
  • One-click website language translations from English to Spanish or Korean
  • Search functions to pinpoint the items you need quickly
  • Left-hand-side-of-page buttons to help you navigate the site easily
  • Clean and simple layout with prominent highlights of emerging news
  • Many more user-friendly features
New Feature: Business Portal

One important new feature on the new site is the “Business Portal.” We created this section with you in mind. The Business Portal is a one-stop shopping for business users to access the information they need. Please visit the Business Portal for:
  • WSLCB’s online tax reporting and payment system
  • Access to tax reporting forms for in-state and out-of-state licensees
  • All forms and contact information for listing new products
We Want Your Feedback

If you have just a few minutes after you see the site, please give us feedback via the online survey you’ll see posted. Thanks again for your time and input.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

2011 Legislative Update

  1. 2011 session underway, FWWS introduces four bills.
  2. New FWWS proposal would legalize consumer direct ship by retailers.
  3. Farmer’s market sampling bill introduced, receives hearing.
  4. Wine Institute “What is a Winery” proposal still a mystery.
2011 Session Underway

As of this writing, the first week of the 2011 Washington Legislative session is behind us. The FWWS Board has been very busy over the past year preparing for this hectic season. Together with our Lobbying Team of Mark Gjurasic and Terry Kohl, we have secured sponsors in both the House and Senate for a total of four bills – a very ambitious agenda. Three of these bills, our Tax Reporting Relief Act, Payment Parity Act, and Craft Wineries Act have been previously introduced. Our Direct Shipping Bill is new. No hearings have yet been scheduled on any of our bills. Fact sheets and the complete text of all these proposals are available on our website.

FWWS Introduces Direct to Consumers Shipping Bill

FWWS has introduced a new bill this session which we believe has many positive aspects for Washington wineries, consumers, and the State. While Washington wineries and out-of-state wineries presently have the right to ship wine direct to consumers in Washington, both domestic and out-of-state retailers are prohibited from doing so. In other words, any retailers presently shipping to Washington consumers are doing it illegally. We believe creating a legal venue for this practice is a good idea and will accomplish the following:
  • Level the playing field for Washington wineries. Presently any wine shipments by out-of-state retailers are shipped without collection of Washington State sales and excise taxes since such shipments are extra legal and outside the tax registration process. This puts your wines at a roughly ten percent competitive disadvantage even before considering the cost of adult signature requirement compliance, presently $4 per package for UPS shipments.
  • Adult signature requirements can be extended by regulating such shipments, accomplishing a clear and valuable public safety goal.
  • Tax revenue can be generated at a time of tight state budgets from a population that will gladly accept such taxes in exchange for the benefit of being able to bring what we believe is a common practice into the legal daylight.
  • Strategically, we believe that seeing such revenues suddenly appear from a currently underground economy, will encourage other states to join the handful that presently allow direct shipment from retailers to consumers. This will allow Washington wineries to sell to Washington retailers, or nationwide retailer intermediaries such as, for resale to consumers in other states, and in quantities that presently make it impossible to either attract the representation of a wholesaler or justify the cost of compliance by an individual Washington winery in such an out-of-state market.
Farmers’ Market Wine Sampling Bill Introduced

A bill has been introduced in both the State House (HB 1172) and Senate (SB 5029) that provides a pilot program allowing wineries to provide tasting samples at farmers’ markets. Currently wineries may apply for a $75 license endorsement to sell wine at farmers markets meeting certain requirements. Tasting at such markets is not allowed. Under the proposal, tasting of samples up to 2 ounces would be allowed with a maximum of 4 ounces per customer, and only at markets currently approved for such wine sales. The pilot program would expire at the end of 2012 unless extended.

FWWS supports this proposal. It has already received a hearing in the house and is presently scheduled for a hearing before the Senate Labor, Commerce, and Consumer Protection Committee on January 18th. We will keep you posted on its progress.

Washington Wine Institute “What is a Winery?” Bill Still a Mystery

Last month we reported to you on the WWI’s “What is a Winery?” concept. The WWI has been discussing concerns in this regard for at least eighteen months. As we reported, last August we became aware through the trade media that the WSLCB shared some concerns being discussed by the WWI. Inquiries to the WSLCB indicated that they expected the WWI to present such a bill in the 2011 session but that the WSLCB could offer no details since they were only providing “technical assistance” to the WWI in this regard. Repeated subsequent requests to the WWI for a draft copy or even an outline of their proposal have gone unanswered.

In December, a legislative committee Chair offered to arrange a meeting between FWWS, the WWI, the WSLCB, and the federal Alcohol and Tobacco TTB in order to discuss agency concerns and the WWI concept. While the WWI refused the invitation, a meeting was subsequently arranged by the WSLCB. Attending were FWWS Board members, our lobbyist, and staff from the TTB and WSLCB. While several issues of regulatory concern were discussed, what became clear from the meeting is that the current State definition of “production” within the licensing statute is not sufficiently clear or comprehensive to cover business models currently being used, models which may be allowable under the current federal statutes, assuming wineries are actually complying with the federal rules. Beyond identifying this fairly straightforward definitional inadequacy in the statute, what was not sufficiently covered in the meeting is; first, to what extent the proposal is being driven by public policy goals arising from the lack of clarity in the licensing rules, and, second, if this is primarily being driven by insufficiency with the current licensing laws, why the WSLCB, rather than the WWI, is not pursuing this legislation as a regulatory reform proposal. We believe that broad industry input on proposals which mandatorily affect all state winery licensees is vital and that the WSLCB, as our regulator, is in the best position to coordinate such input. Thus far, the WWI has not only not solicited such broad industry input, they have been unwilling to accept it, except, presumably, from their membership.

At the present time and one week into the current legislative session, we have not received either a draft bill or an outline of the bill concept from the WWI. We are, therefore, uncertain whether the WWI intends to proceed with such a bill at this time, or why such a bill is necessary beyond a few definition tweaks in the liquor code. Obviously we are in no position to comment on what may or may not be in it. We will keep you posted.

As always we welcome and value your questions, comments, and input.

The Board of FWWS