New Virginia Law to Allow Distillers to Sell Bottles at Festivals and Events

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“Virginia is for Lovers” has been the tourism slogan for Virginia since 1969. As of this week, that signature red heart could be replaced by the silhouette of a craft spirits bottle when Governor Terry McAuliffe formally signed off on Senate Bill 1448 (95-Y 0-N) and House Bill 2029 (40-Y 0-N) which allows distillers to sell their craft spirits at festivals and events around the state.

Virginia Distillers AssociationThe newly signed identical bills presented by the Virginia Distillers Association will enable Virginia distilleries to sell bottles at events conducted “for the purpose of featuring and educating the consuming public about spirits products” effective July 1, 2017.

Virginia Distillers Association President and CEO of Virginia Distillery Company, Gareth Moore said in a statement, “Virginia legislators are becoming much more enthusiastic and supportive of Virginia’s burgeoning craft spirits industry; this recent legislation is a success for expanding market access in partnership with Virginia ABC. The VDA would like to thank Senator Creigh Deeds, Delegates Nick Freitas and Kaye Kory; the patrons of the legislation, for their support of our growing industry.”

Senate Bill 1448 Patron Creigh Deeds said in a statement “I am excited about how the industry has grown and even more excited about the economic opportunities the industry will provide to Virginians for years to come.”

House Bill 2029 Co-Patrons Delegates Kory and Freitas added in that they are “Proud to support entrepreneurial small businesses and encourage the growth of the Virginia spirits industry.”

Virginia is for Craft Spirits LoversDirector of Virginia Distillers Association Government Relations Curtis Coleburn explained how the new legislation will help the Virginia distilleries gain exposure and increase sales. “Like the successful wine festivals held annually across Virginia, craft spirits festivals are growing in number and represent an excellent way to introduce Virginia consumers to the many outstanding distilled products made here in the Commonwealth. Today’s consumers seek greater access to products. Without this legislation, visitors to a spirits event who find a product they like must be directed to a Virginia ABC store to make a purchase. The new law will eliminate missed sales opportunities.”

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“Virginia’s fast growing craft beverage industry is playing a key role in economic growth across the Commonwealth,” says Secretary of Commerce and Trade Todd P. Haymore. “Particularly in our rural regions and through increased agricultural production opportunities for our family farms. With nearly 50 licensed distilleries today – a 350 percent increase from 2008 – and a reputation for producing the highest quality distilled spirits, I believe the stage is set for more growth in the coming years. I’m pleased to continue working with Governor McAuliffe, the General Assembly, Virginia ABC leadership, the Virginia Tourism Corporation, the Virginia Distillers Association, and many others to further enhance the growth and sustainability of this sector that is helping to drive the new Virginia economy.”

As more and more distilleries are opening their doors for business in Virginia, the state is realizing that the spirits industry is an additional asset to its hospitality and tourism portfolio, similar to the Virginia wine and beer industries. The Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC) has done an exceptional job in positioning these industries as culinary destinations to travelers both in state and out of state. During the VDA’s recent Legislative Day, VDA Board Members met with VTC Officials to discuss future collaborative promotions geared towards activating tourism, such as the development of a Virginia Spirits Trail.

Annual Virginia Craft Distiller Festivals Announced

The Virginia Distillers Association is planning two annual large-scale consumer events to celebrate the new legislation. The first of which will be the Virginia Craft Spirits Showcase in Roanoke Virginia at City Market Building on Saturday, September 16, 2017. The second event will be the Coastal Virginia Spirits Classic in Hampton Roads this fall. “Many Virginia spirits products are available only regionally in the state or even just at the distillery,” explained Mary Beth Williams of Williams Compliance. “Consumers will now have the chance to taste products from multiple Virginia distilleries at these events, learn the story behind each product, and purchase products that might not be available at their local Virginia ABC store to take home and share with friends and family. It’s a win-win for the industry and the consumers.”

September is Virginia Spirits Month

Lastly, in addition to support from the Virginia General Assembly, Virginia ABC has also been working with the Virginia Distillers Association to improve the regulatory landscape. Effective as of August 1, 2016, restaurants and mixed-beverage licensees can now purchase Virginia spirits directly from Virginia distilleries. Additional initiatives such as a statewide discount on all Virginia spirits throughout September Virginia Spirits Month, and more are actively being developed for launch later this year by Virginia ABC and the Virginia Distillers Association.

Members of the Virginia Distillers Association include:

The Virginia Distillers Association is a nonprofit private trade association focused on the regulatory and legislative needs of the industry; as well as promotional efforts to increase awareness of Virginia’s growing craft spirits industry.

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