Sixth Notice of Regulatory Relief
Virtual Wine and Beer Tastings and Charitable Promotions
The Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control announces a Sixth Notice of Regulatory Relief related to Virtual Wine and Beer Tastings and Charitable Promotions. ABC previously suspended enforcement of the following legal prohibitions on a temporary basis:
- Returns of Alcoholic Beverages
- Retail-to-Retail Transactions
- Extension of Credit
- On-Sale Retailers Exercising Off-Sale Privileges
- Sales of Alcoholic Beverages To-Go
- Drive-Thru Windows for Off-Sale Transactions
- Hours of Operations for Retail Sales
- Deliveries to Consumers
- Free Delivery
- Delivery Hours Extended to Midnight
- Charitable Promotions and Sales
- Distilled Spirits Manufacturers Providing High-Proof Spirits for Disinfection Purposes
- Virtual Wine Tastings
- Expansion of Licensed Footprint
- Extension of Regulatory Relief for Club Licenses: Type 50, 51 and 52
- On-Sale Licensees Without Kitchen Facilities
Those temporary relief measures remain in place, and the Department now issues the following relief to enable winegrower, beer manufacturer, and certain other specified supplier licensees to partner with on-sale retailers to conduct “virtual meet the winemaker/brewer dinners” pursuant to Business and Professions Code sections 25503.4 and 25503.45 and subject to certain parameters, and renews its former relief given to allow for Charitable Promotions and Sales related to this State of Emergency that was previously allowed to expire:
17. “Virtual” Meet the Winemaker or Brewer Dinners
Business and Professions Code sections 25503.4 and 25503.45 are specific exceptions to tied-house “thing of value” prohibitions that authorize particularly identified licensees to work with on-sale retailers to conduct events. These events are commonly referred to as “meet the winemaker” (section 25503.4) and “meet the brewer” (section 25503.45) dinners. Licensees authorized to participate with on-sale retailers in such events are: (1) Pursuant to section 25503.4—winegrowers, California winegrower’s agents, or wine importers; (2) Pursuant to section 25503.45—licensed beer manufacturers or beer and wine importer’s general licensees.
Both section 25503.4 and section 25503.45 require that the authorized events occur on the premises of an on-sale licensee. By this Sixth Notice of Regulatory Relief, the Department will temporarily exercise its prosecutorial discretion and will not enforce this requirement as long as the following parameters are complied with in conducting such events:
The events must still be conducted by, with the permission of, and under the control of the on-sale retailer, and the winery or brewery (or other authorized licensee) may participate only to the same extent that they would be if the event was being held on the retailer’s premises.
The on-sale retailer must sell all food and alcoholic beverages to consumers (for delivery or pick-up). Meals included may be prepared by the on-sale retailer or may include ingredients for the consumer to prepare at home, or may be some combination thereof.
A participating winery or brewery (or other authorized licensee) may advertise the event in the same manner (and subject to the same limitations) as is permitted by the respective statutory authority.
The retailer and winery/brewery/authorized licensee may jointly host on-line instruction in connection with the event.
No wine or beer or any other alcoholic beverages may be provided by the winery or brewery (or other authorized licensee) to consumers in connection with the event. While section 25503.4 does provide for limited samples of wine to be provided by the authorized licensee in conjunction with events being held at the on-sale retailers premises, because it would be problematic for such licensees to provide such limited quantities in a compliant manner, as well as difficulties with oversight and enforcement, the Department is not authorizing this activity. There is no similar authority for beer samples to be provided even at events being held on the premises of the on-sale retailer.
Any costs associated with the delivery of food and alcohol, for hosting the online event, or otherwise related to the event, must be borne by the on-sale retailer.
18. Renewal of Relief for Charitable Promotions and Sales
The Department supports its licensees making monetary donations to bona fide charitable organizations, including such organizations established to support employees of licensed retailers, in connection with the COVID-19 crisis. With respect to promotional donations in which a manufacturer, wholesaler, or other supplier-type licensee advertises that a portion of the purchase price of the alcoholic beverages will be donated to a specified charitable organization, the Department is suspending enforcement of the prohibitions against provisions of things of value to retailers (Business and Professions Code Section 25500 or 25502) and the prohibition against the provision of premiums, gifts, or free goods in connection with the sale or marketing of alcoholic beverages (Business and Professions Code Section 25600), subject to the following limitations:
- The donation and promotion involve a bona fide charitable organization providing relief related to the COVID-19 pandemic;
- The promotion is in connection with the sale of sealed containers and does not encourage or promote the consumption of alcoholic beverages; and
- The donation and promotion do not identify, advertise, or otherwise promote or involve any retail licensee.
The Department has determined that this earlier relief shall be extended until further notice.