Full Circle Brewing Co. CEO Arthur Moye. 2018 File Photo
Written by Gabriel Dillard
Since early this year, California distilleries have been locked in on legislative attempts to equalize the shipping options for small, local brewers and distilleries.
Starting in mid-2020 due to the pandemic, California had allowed craft distilleries to ship products to of-age customers across the state. The emergency provision – viewed by many in the industry as a test run – ended in March of this year, preventing local distilleries and brewers from shipping their products to California residents.
Senate Bill 620 (SB-620), written by Senators Bill Dodd and Ben Allen, is currently in committee and aims to allow craft distilleries and breweries to ship to California customers, as well as increasing the limits on amounts that are allowed to be shipped from 2.5 liters per day to customer, to 4.5 liters.
“Today, when I have a customer in my tasting room or online, and she wants to buy four 750ml bottles of our bourbon and have them shipped directly to her home in California, I have to explain both of those requests are illegal,” said Alex Villicana, president of the California Artisanal Distillers Guild, and owner of RE:FIND Distillery and Villicana Winery in Paso Robles. “That’s a huge hurdle for making sales and building a customer base.”
With e-commerce playing an ever-increasing role these days, many brewers believe that this bill will help even the playing field when it comes to shipping products.
“I think it’s a step in the right direction to remove legislative barriers between craft producers and their customers,” said Arthur Moye, CEO of Full Circle Brewing Co. in Fresno. “I could see employment going up; The shipping logistics and advertising in this new channel takes a lot of work.”
Many in support of the bill point to California wineries, which saw exponential growth from 1986 to 2021.
In 1986, wineries were first allowed to ship within California. That year, the California wine industry produced $5.5 billion in revenue.
This past year, the same industry brought in $57.6 billion.
Along with those numbers come employment and market saturation, with 700 wineries in 1986, compared to 4,000 in 2022.
“Since the pandemic there has been massive consolidation in liquor store distribution, so I love 95% of my business that I will never see again. This bill is essential to our survival,” said Aaron Bergh, President and Founder of Calwise Spirits Co. in Templeton, Ca. “Craft distilleries like mine are family owned and operated so we aren’t just small businesses, we’re active members of our communities.”