Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signs bill to allow wineries to open in dry counties
Alabama lawmakers who worked this past session to cut red tape on some of the state’s alcohol laws may add another victory to their list. Governor Kay Ivey signed SB 397, a law allowing the opening of wineries in dry counties of Alabama.
Sponsored by Senator Andrew Jones (R- Cherokee County), the measure will allow the Alabama Alabama Alcohol Beverage Control Board to issue a license for a winery to open in a dry county and produce wine for distribution outside the county. According to the National Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, Alabama has 24 dry counties. However, all of these counties contain “wetlands” or municipalities where the sale of alcohol is legal within city limits.
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The law contains a few stipulations. Wine makers in dry counties can sell, ship, and deliver their wine to a licensed wine distributor in Alabama or to a legal distributor out of state. Wineries in dry counties cannot distribute their wine within the county, except within wet county municipalities.
Jones, who has long championed the state’s wine growers, said he sponsored the bill because some of his constituents were curious about getting into the wine industry, but would not be allowed to open stores. wineries under current state law.
“I represent a small part of Dekalb County. And there was a resident of Dekalb County who wished he could make wine there. Dekalb is a dry county, but it has several wet towns in the dry county, ”Jones said. “But if you don’t live in these towns and you live in the dry county of the unincorporated zone, you are not allowed to make wine under the applicable law.”
Jones compares the new law to Jack Daniel’s Distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee, located in a dry county. Although the distillery is licensed to make whiskey, visitors cannot purchase alcohol at Jack Daniel’s premises or anywhere in Moore County (visitors can taste the whiskey and purchase special commemorative bottles) .
“It’s sort of the same. You know, respecting the dry county, the voters’ desire not to have liquor sales in the county, while still allowing something to make and produce, ”Jones said. “There are places that do this sort of thing, allowing people to manufacture, but not allowing people to sell it there. Thus, they would have to sell it to a distributor, and the distributor would be able to sell in wet markets where it is allowed. “
A longtime advocate for the state’s vineyards, the passage of SB 397 marks Jones’ third win in wine law this year. Jones also sponsored SB 167, a bill that will allow Alabama winemakers to sell their products directly to consumers at special events without having to use a distributor, and SB 294, a measure allowing wineries in the State to sell their wines directly to retailers without using a distributor. Governor Ivey signed both of these bills.
This last session was a milestone for alcohol legislation, especially for wineries. In addition to the three measures sponsored by Jones, Governor Ivey also signed HB 437, also known as the “wine shipping bill”. Sponsored by Representative Terri Collins, R-Decatur, the law, which comes into effect in August, will allow winemakers to ship their wines directly to consumers in Alabama.
The governor also signed HB 539, which increases the amount of breweries and alcohol distilleries that can sell to customers for off-site consumption. Starting in August, breweries will be able to sell 864 ounces of beer per customer per day to be consumed outside. Distilleries will be able to sell 4.5 liters of alcohol per customer per day.
The first – and most important – game changer in the alcohol law came in early April when Gov. Kay Ivey signed a bill to allow Alabama retailers, restaurants and manufacturers to deliver alcohol. alcohol directly to customers.