SALINAS – A bill that has its origins in Monterey County, was recently enacted allowing consumers to bring their own bottles of wine to refill at participating tasting rooms, reducing waste and expanding business .
âIt’s important to have a level playing field for all wineries. The new legislation allows wineries to reduce waste and packaging costs, âsaid Heather Brand, owner of I. Brand & Family Winery. âIt’s a win-win situation. We can reduce our environmental footprint and pass the savings on to our guests and customers. “
Brand was part of the catalyst behind the launch of Assembly Bill 239, drafted by Assembly members Carlos Villapudua, D-Stockton, and Robert Rivas, D-Hollister.
The tasting room of I. Brand is located in Carmel Valley Village and his winery is south of Salinas.
Brand said she researched refillable containers for the I. Brand tasting room and found that the law in the books allowed wineries with tasting rooms attached to production facilities to refill the containers, but not to. those who were not attached.
âIt seemed to put some businesses at an unnecessary disadvantage,â Brand said.
When Monterey County Vintners & Growers Association executive director Kim Stemler asked an alcoholic beverage control board official to speak to the association, Brand asked during the interview why there was a difference. between attached and unattached tasting rooms, and whether the rule could be changed.
âIt got the ball rolling and Kim (Stemler) and local lawmakers really followed suit,â Brand said. “I had prepared a testimony for the consideration of the (State) House and the Senate, but it turned out to be unnecessary because the law was passed easily.”
Stemler said the local and national wine industry cares about sustainability, and legislation facilitated by the Monterey County Vintners & Growers Association is not only great for the environment and business, but is also another way to create a community in the wine regions of the county.
AB 239, a law amending section 23390 of the Business and Profession Code, relating to alcoholic beverages, was first read in mid-January and promulgated by Governor Newsom on September 22. The law comes into force on January 1.
âThis bill illustrates California’s commitment to achieving its sustainability goals through creative and business-friendly means,â Rivas said in a press release. âOur breweries have already demonstrated how effective wine producers are at reducing consumer waste and growing their businesses – now is the time to empower our wineries to do the same. I applaud the work of my colleague, Assembly Member Carlos Villapudua, D-Stockton, and stakeholders like the Monterey County Vintners & Growers Association for their dedication to pushing this bill through.
Growlers are glass, metal or ceramic containers used to transport draft beer.
âThe most likely scenario would be for wineries to have branded reusable growlers that customers and guests could return to the cellar and receive a sterile replacement filled with the wine of their choice,â Brand said. âThis is what we intend to do at I. Brand and Family, as soon as we have finished harvesting.
Brand said the new law allows for a sustainable option to reduce packaging waste, which is good for the environment and his business bottom line. She added that the legislation is a testament to Stemler’s work with the alcoholic beverage control directorate, local and national industry partners, and MPs Rivas and Villapudua, who helped develop the bill.
The bill has attracted broad support from the California wine industry, including the California Association of Winegrape Growers, the Wine Institute and sister wine regions in the state.
The Monterey County Vintners & Growers Association was formed in 1973 to bring together the talents and resources of grape growers, winemakers and the wider community to promote and support leadership in the art, science and business of wine. The association works to strengthen the Monterey Wine Country brand and raise awareness of the region.