New State Law Allows Farmers’ Markets to Offer Wine Tasting

On July 9th, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law AB 2488 by Assembly Member Marc Levine (D-San Rafael). The bill immediately allows limited wine and cider tasting at certified farmers’ markets.

AB 2488 takes effect immediately to allow sales during the current season. The new privilege is subject to a number of safeguards.

Market managers now have the discretion to allow tastings at their specific market. Only one winery on any given day may offer tastings. The tastings must occur in a corded-off area of the market. Additionally, the grower is limited to pour no more than three ounces of wine or cider per adult consumer.

Farmers’ markets in Visalia, Tulare, Lindsay and Hanford are unlikely to immediately offer wine or cider tasting, however.

The Visalia Farmers’ Market Board of Directors oversees Saturday morning markets outside the Sequoia Mall in Visalia, as well as those in Downtown Visalia on Thursday nights and in Downtown Tulare on Tuesday nights. If the board approves wine tasting, it could be offered at all three markets, including the one on Saturday mornings.

“If somebody is looking to buy a bottle of, let’s say, blueberry wine, they probably want to taste it at any time of day,” said Market Manager Naomi Alberstein, who added that a winemaker who sells at all three of their markets is interested in offering wine tastings. She has also received inquiries from two other winemakers.

“I think it’s a fabulous thing for our local wineries to get their wines out there, but it won’t happen (at our farmers’ market) this season if at all,” said Summer Headley, events coordinator for Main Street Hanford, which sponsors Thursday Night Marketplace, billed as “much more than just a farmers’ market.” The marketplace includes a beer garden, which is why there is little interest in adding wine tasting.

Virginia Loya, director of the Lindsay Friday Night Market, said that event could offer wine tasting “maybe in the future,” but added that the Lindsay City Council would have to approve it.

“Traditionally, wine, like many products, is sold through sampling,” said Paul Kronenberg, president of the Family Winemakers of California. “Consumers want to understand the wine, decide if they like it, and decide if it is a good value.”

“AB 2488 is win-win-win for wineries and cider makers, consumers, and the certified farmers’ markets,” said Mike Falasco, vice president of the Wine Institute.

“I thank Governor Brown for his signature on this legislation,” said Levine. “The farmers’ market shopping experience involves tasting the products. AB 2488 is a common sense solution that simply allows tastings at certified farmers’ markets where winemakers are already allowed to sell their products.”

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