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

By Zachariah Bryan

What could make the West Seattle 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.”

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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