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Tasting room separation requirements


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Hi everyone, I'm planning on opening a very small rectifying plant (<2000 sq/ft) in the near future and I'm having a hard time finding some information.  I know that the tasting room has to be physically separated so that customers cannot get back there without key/code etc.  Does that separation have to be floor to ceiling or can it be say 5 or 6 feet tall?  To be clear, there is no distilling on site whatsoever, infusions and bottling only.  

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TTB's specialists have adopted a mantra, "Floor to ceiling."  If you submit an application showing a retail area that is adjacent to the DSP premises,  they are likely to send a "correction request" - which is what they call any request for additional information, as well as changes -  asking, "Please confirm that the separation is floor to ceiling."  So, in practice,  they are requiring floor to ceiling separation between a DSP and any place you make sales of the product at retail.  I don't care how many exceptions you may have seen to this "rule," TTB now asks about it with regularly. 

The legal basis is a prohibition, in the law, against establishing a DSP anywhere where liquors are sold at retail (§5178(a)(1)(B)).  §19.52 is the section of regulation that implements that prohibition. II find no section of the regulation that addresses suitable separation.  That is why I call it policy.  I think that policy would not necessarily require a floor to ceiling separation. TTB could interpret the law to allow any separation that  it deems adequate to establish that that, for purposes of  §5178, the DSP premises is separate from the retailer premises.   That is how we work around the residence issue, which also follows from §5178 prohibitions.

There are some provisions of part 19 that point toward a floor to ceiling requirement for the purpose of physical security of the revenue. §19.192(b) provides , "The buildings, rooms, and partitions must be constructed of substantial materials. Doors, windows, or any other openings to the building must be secured or fastened during times when distilled spirits plant operations are not being conducted.  "Other openings" could be construed to mean any space that might exist  between a partition and the the ceiling, but that reading is certainly not required and TTB has not required it, for example, in case of separation between a DSP and an adjacent brewery, although a specialist might do so tomorrow.     Further, while the authority for the security requirements is  also §5178, they are, I think, authorized under a different paragraph, (a)(1)(A,) than is the need for the separation of DSP and retail premises.   

Where does that leave you? You must either plan on floor to ceiling partition, which for TTB purposes could be a chain link fence, or be prepared to go to battle over why what you propose to do is both (1) necessary and (2) permissible.  In general, unless you have a compelling reason to argue otherwise, I advise accepting the rule, "It must be floor to ceiling because they say it must be floor to ceiling."  That's my general rule, "It is because they say it is."  I advise picking your fight carefully,.  

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