According to a press release from Greenbar Craft Distillery, AB 1295, the California Small Distillers Bill, was signed by Gov. Brown and will take effect on January 1, 2016.
This bill, which will bring California's craft distilleries into near parity with the state's craft breweries and wine makers, as well as distilleries in more than 40 other states, will finally allow distilleries like Greenbar to fully open their doors to spirits lovers. We can now...
1) Serve cocktails, allowing guests to experience our spirits in their intended use.
2) Sell bottles to visitors for consumption in the state of California.
3) Open a distillery-run bar and restaurant on our premises.
I asked a representative from this distillery what they offer now and what will change in the future. He said:
Currently we were only allowed to serve a guest 1.5oz of spirits per day. Although this won't change (which is strange since no such restrictions exist on wineries/breweries), we WILL now be able to serve some or all of that 1.5oz in a cocktail. This is big, since it allows us to show you how to use and mix our products, not just sample them straight.
Another big change will be bottle sales. Currently we were not allowed to sell bottles for consumption within the state of California. This bill will allow us to sell up to 3 bottles, per person, per day, for consumption within California. Again, huge, since now if you visit and enjoy our spirits we don't have to send you across town to hunt for the products on shelves.
Lastly, we have plans to open a Greenbar bar/restaurant near our distillery as soon as logistically possible. Obviously this is a big undertaking, but we've been fighting for this legislation for a long time and have been preparing for the day it would pass for some time now. More updates on this major project will be coming out soon!
Then I reached out to a few other distilleries to see what their plans are.
- "As of now we have just a distillery. The plan is to build a full blown tasting room, on site store and a larger facility to do farm and distillery tours." - David Souza, Founder, Sweet Potato Spirits; Atwater, CA
- "At Spirit Works, we have already hired a new tasting room manager and plan on bringing on another full time staff member for the tasting room next year when the law takes effect. We are excited about every facet of the new bill but the direct sales to tasting room visitors has to be the most exciting aspect! We will be permitted to sell up to three 750ml bottles per customer, per day. In addition to selling our current line-up of products, we're really excited for the creativity this will foster with the possibility of selling one-off, small-batch experimental products exclusively in the tasting room. We're also looking forward to putting together mini cocktail flights for tasting room guests to showcase our products is lieu of straight tastes. This will be an excellent opportunity to not only introduce visitors to our products, but this also affords us the chance to show people how to make delicious cocktails at home as our space has always been very focused on education." - Jessica Shumaker, Marketing Manager and Distiller, Spirit Works Distillery
- "At a minimum we can at least start to sell directly and perhaps pouring monthly cocktail specials which will allow us to showcase our spirits, the applications of them once you leave the space, and how to use local ingredients to make a cocktail." -Adam Boyd Spiegel, Owner and Distiller, Sonoma County Distilling Company
- Our tasting room in St. Helena continues with wines, ports & aperitifs - and a great patio to smoke cigars. As always: brandy distilling, only. No other spirits in St. Helena. (We're in the wrong Napa Valley zone). We are moving forward to be able to offer tasting & sales by appointment at our Ukiah distillery as soon as the Bill allows. This is exciting. Our family's goal is to offer an educational approach for guests. With that said, throw in Marko's natural exuberance and I know it will be well worth the drive to Ukiah. - Susan Karakasevic, Co-Owner/GM, Charbay Distillery & Winery
- "Because of the law’s passage we are now doing a full tasting room renovation and preparing to open with regular hours sometime after the first of the year (currently we are by appointment). Although the law takes effect in January, it may take a little more time for us to open up because California ABC actually has to create a new permit for distilleries. Once that happens we have to apply for and be issued a totally new permit. We’re very excited about the changes in the new law and look forward to the day when someone can walk into our distillery and leave with a bottle in their hands." - Eric Larimer, Founder, Distiller, Sutherland Distilling