(update since this original report – it passed)
It’s tanked in the state Legislature a couple times in the past few years, but Admiral resident Liz Wilhelm points out that the bill to allow grocery-store beer/wine tastings is back. In fact, it’s up for a hearing in the State House Committee on Commerce and Labor in Olympia at 8 am today, according to the bill’s official webpage. Liz has a lot to say about it:
This week, Washington State’s latest under-the-radar legislation is
about to sail through Olympia. The bill is named ESB 5751 (companion HB
2076)-… I wonder if the ESB is in honor of “Extra Special Bitter” by
Briefly, ESB 5751 will establish a wine and beer sampling pilot program
in our State’s grocery stores. Yes folks, while shopping with the kids
at your local Safeway, you may have to negotiate more than choosing
between Lucky Charms and Sugar Smacks.
It’s only a pilot program but a big toe in the door for its sponsors.
The primary sponsors of this legislation are Senators Kohl-Welles,
Hewitt, and Rockefeller plus Representatives Conway, Williams, Condotta, Newhouse, and Ormsby (Thank goodness none of the
34th district legislators support this bill! Thank you, Rep Sharon
Nelson for keeping an eye on this!) [WSB NOTE: Actually, according to the Feb. 12 Senate roll call linked from the bill’s official page, West Seattle state Sen. Joe McDermott voted for it.]
The wording… oh you’re going to love this. Here’s an excerpt:
“The service area and facilities must be located within the licensee’s
fully enclosed retail area, and must be of a size and design such that
the licensee can observe and control persons in the area to ensure that
persons under twenty-one years of age and obviously intoxicated persons
cannot possess or consume alcohol. Customers must remain in the service
area while consuming samples. The licensee must have food available for
the tasting participants.”
“Obviously intoxicated”? Well, at least there’ll be Nachos.
I drink socially, usually wine and beer. I’m far from an anti-alcohol
nanny but do object to my tax dollars going towards the necessary
policing of this scheme and I ask you to just consider the consequences
if this legislation passes into law. With any law that involves alcohol,
there needs to be oversight. Oversight costs money and the money comes
from the taxpayer. That’s you and me, in case you didn’t know.
It’s tough enough to go grocery shopping with the kids, now we have to
deal with a de-facto bar on aisle 7. And then there’s the question of
parking. I don’t know about you, but driving through a supermarket’s
parking lot is challenging enough when sober, wouldn’t it be just lovely
if a drunk (a lot of professional drunks are very adept at looking
sober) ploughed into you or your vehicle after he or she stopped on the
way home from the bar for a little extra “tasting.” I’m also wondering
who is going to stop the 6 foot 210 pound angry man from taking off to
the frozen food section to grab a few more egg rolls to enjoy with his
And, we have yet another avenue for our teens to use their fake IDs.
There are enough bars and restaurants in Washington State and that’s
where wine and beer tastings should take place. Served by professional
bartenders and consumed by like-minded individuals. Period.
My questions are many, but specifically: Are Safeway, Costco, Fred
Meyer, QFC, Albertsons, and Trader Joe’s stores in support of this
legislation? Do the stores absorb the cost of the samples, cups, food,
Who will benefit from this legislation? Not the public, not the stores,
not the liquor control board. Perhaps some legislators with wine
industry interests have motivations the rest of us don’t know about.
ESB 5751/HB2076 has been set for hearing in House Commerce and Labor
committee Thursday, February 21st at 8 am. It needs to be opposed.
More text from bill:
“A “tasting” may be conducted under the following conditions:
“Each sample must be two ounces or less, up to a total of four ounces,
“No more than one sample of any single brand and type of beer or wine may
be provided to a customer during any one visit to the premises; and
“The licensee may only advertise the tasting event within the store.”
As mentioned above, the Senate already has voted on this, but if you want to provide your opinion or comments to West Seattle’s state House Reps, contact info for Rep. Sharon Nelson is here, and contact info for Rep. Eileen Cody is here.