SB 620 must pass chamber by January 31 or the bill dies

Today, three of the oldest distilleries in California – Charbay Distillery, Greenbar Distillery and St. George Spirits – sent a letter to the California Senate urging legislators to pass SB 620, a bill to make spirits direct-to-consumer (DTC) shipping permanent.

“While California had just seven craft distilleries in 1990, we now boast more than 150 throughout the state – making California the largest craft distilling state in the nation,” the letter states. “For California’s burgeoning craft distilling industry to continue to survive, it is imperative the laws governing distilled spirits be modernized to support growth and competition.”

The letter highlights the disadvantages distillers have faced compared to their wine counterparts.

“For more than three decades, wineries in California have been able to ship their products directly to consumers – a move that helped the entire industry grow and become one of California’s pride points,” the letter states. “Unfortunately, distillers have been prohibited from doing the same, precluding us from vital market access and disadvantaging our spirits consumers.”

In March 2020, the California ABC granted distilleries temporary direct shipping authority to support them as they faced the harsh economic impacts of COVID-19. This measure will expire March 31, 2022, at which point, distillers and consumers will no longer be able to enjoy DTC shipping for distilled spirits products without passage of legislation or another extension.

“Our distilleries have contributed to a vibrant California culture, supporting tourism and local agriculture, and bolstering state and local economies,” the letter stated. “Today, the spirits industry in California supports more than 143,000 jobs, but we are being left behind because of antiquated spirits regulations. Spirits DTC will increase consumer convenience, provide a positive boost for tourism and the hospitality industry, build small businesses and enhance distribution, and continue important responsibility measures to prevent underage access.”