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California to liberalise wine laws

The Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, has approved a bill intended to liberalise the state’s wine laws.

Sponsored by the Wine Institute, the law will allow winemakers to sell their wines in licensed venues away from the winery.

The bill will also allow customers to take home unfinished bottles.

The change is highly significant for local winemakers, as more and more wineries are opening tasting rooms and winery-owned bars, particularly in cities.

Previously, only samples of wines could be offered at tasting rooms.

It is hoped the new law will help winemakers facing challenging market conditions.

Noreen Evans, chair of the Californian Government Select Committee on Wine, introduced the bill in February 2009 to the State Legislature to correct inconsistencies in the state’s wine regulations.

‘Wineries are feeling the pains of this recession,’ said Evans.

‘This bill provides them with a little boost. With fewer tourists visiting wine country, wineries can now reach out to customers through new kinds of direct sales.’

Californian wineries Saintsbury and Chateau Montelena – which have recently opened tasting rooms at venues in San Francisco – are welcoming the move.

Jeff Adams, marketing manager for Chateau Montelena told decanter.com that the change would ‘allow consumers to sample the wines at a convenient location.’

‘Many wine enthusiasts pass through San Francisco but are unable to make it here to the Napa Valley.’

The bill, known as AB 1470, will become law 1 January 2010.

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Written by James Lawrence

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