Photo by John Henderson (Flickr/CC)

Bill passed in House to allow wine, beer samples at farmers markets

Update, April 9

Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welle's bill to allow wine and beer samples at Farmers Markets all over the state is on its way to becoming law.

Senate Bill 5674 was passed in the State House of Representatives today in an 81-12 vote. A minor amendment was made to it in the committee so the bill would make sure to include the Olympia Farmers Market, meaning that the House and Senate versions of the bill must be reconciled before moving on to the governor to sign. Otherwise, nothing else was changed.

Read below to find out what the bill entails.

Original, March 12

What could make the Ballard Farmers Market even better? If it was able to showcase some of our neighborhood breweries.

If Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D-Belltown) has anything to say about it, that could be a possibility in the near future.

Under Senate Bill 5674, which passed the State Senate today, three wineries and/or breweries per day would be able to offer samples at farmers markets across the state.

“This gives Washington’s small wineries and breweries a low-cost means of marketing their products,” Kohl-Welles said. “This gives our residents more local choices and is good for local businesses and farmers markets across our state.”

Of course, there are limits to the boozing. In addition to a limited number of showcased companies, microbeweries and wineries could serve no more than two ounces per customer per day. Servers must also possess a Class 12 or 13 server permit and food must be made available to those being served.

“When we tried this as a pilot project at 10 farmers markets in 2011 and 2012, sales for participating wineries and breweries grew as much as 400 percent,” Kohl-Welles said. “The project went so successfully, the state Liquor Control Board recommended it be made permanent and expanded.”

Ballard was not included in the pilot program. Instead, the neighboring Magnolia market got that honor.

Before it becomes a reality, though, the bill must go to the House of Representatives. Still, with bipartisan support -- the bill passed 41-8 in the Senate -- chances are high.

Zachariah Bryan can be contacted at zachb@robinsonnews.com

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