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Wine & Whiskey Trails


Mike Fiore

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I've been part of various wine trails and even though we are a winery and distillery nobody has ever complained about it. Until now all my distillation consists of brandy, grappa, & from those spirits we made some infusions like limoncello and etc. We have some whiskey distilleries comming up in the neighborhood, and the question was brought to me if they can be part of a wine trail.

Frankly I have no objection, but my only concern is that we give away 6 1oz samples to customers on the wine trail, but when it comes to spirits we charge a minimum fee to sample it and that helps minimize the amout we pour and helps people not comsume too much alcohol. Another reason we are doing this is because I thought it was illegal to give away spirits. I was wondering if there is a state law or a federal law that restricts you on what you can give away. If a customer visits 10 winereies in one day, that 10th winery should be careful because the customer could be inebriated, and if we are talking about whiskey a person could be alot worse at the end of 10 distilleries.

Can someone help explain to me any ideas or help me understand whiskey trails?

&

Is there a law that determines the amount of samples allowed to be give to customers when they are visiting your distillery?

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I believe the amount one can serve is a state issue, so check with you state control board. In Oregon, I believe it's 1/2 oz. servings, not to excede 2.5 oz.'s worth of serving to one person during the visit.

Regarding the tours, here in Bend we have about 12 brewery's, 2 winery's, 3 distilleries and there are about three different tour companies. Some are just focused on beer while the other does them all. Maybe it's time to have just a distillery tour or an all inclusive tour to offer people.

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My biggest concern is if you have 5 wineries and 5 distilleries within a reasonable distance from one another, these customers would drink wines and spirit samples from 10 difference sources towards the end of the day somebody should take the car keys away from them and very polietly tell them they are not going to drive out of here. What i have found out over many years of experience is that some people have no sense of their limitations.

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Mike, here in SC, we have a limit of three 1/2 oz. samples per person.

That being said, there are some organized tours out here (bus or van), but not like your scale. You're right, some folks have no sense of their limitations, but you and your staff should. If they are displaying the signs, you should not serve someone that is obviously inebriated. Your insurance company and your pocket will thank you for it.

Todd

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I know one micro-distillery in a wine country tourism area that routinely turns away limos full of young women on bachelorette party tours. They're not driving, and as much as we all like drunk girls, if they're drunk when they get there, you're better off without them. This is a micro that charges for its tours, so they're turning down a vehicle full of ticket buyers, but it's probably a smart decision. They're also in a state that only recently legalized tasting at the distillery, so you know the antis are just looking for examples of abuse.

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There are many reasons why I am honored and proud to be a member of ADI. The forum plays a big roll for me. I have been following it for several years now and what I really love is how one of us has a problem or thinks he has a problem how many great guys are out there willing to help. I raise my glass to all of you and I want to thank you with all my heart.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Frankly I have no objection, but my only concern is that we give away 6 1oz samples to customers on the wine trail, but when it comes to spirits we charge a minimum fee to sample it and that helps minimize the amout we pour and helps people not comsume too much alcohol. Another reason we are doing this is because I thought it was illegal to give away spirits. I was wondering if there is a state law or a federal law that restricts you on what you can give away.

Is there a law that determines the amount of samples allowed to be give to customers when they are visiting your distillery?

I did a simple google search and found this for Maryland ""serve not more than three samples (not more than one-half ounce from a single product) of products manufactured at the licensed premises; "" So you can give a total of 1 1/2oz per person of distilled spirits, in whatever combination they choose, so long as the end result equals 1 1/2 oz or less. So it is not illegal per Maryland law. The TTB doesn't stipulate those things, they are only concerned with getting their excise tax which is entirely too high.

As for the wine tours adding distilleries, I see no problem with it. You are obviously both a wine maker and a distiller, why would you want to limit your ability to sell the fruits of your labor, whether it is wine or spirits. It is easy to notice someone who has had too much to drink. and you can choose to refuse them samples, especially if they are alone or driving others, but that is a decision that can only be made by your establishment, at that moment. Wine & Spirits Trails/Tours are a huge trend across our nation. It is a fabulous way to get the little guy noticed among all the huge distillers who are household brand names. Anything to promote the micro-distiller is positive for our industry and for the evolution of high quality, small batch artisan distillers! :rolleyes:

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Could you set a limit blood alcohol policy and ask people to blow in a breathalizer to help keep insurance costs down, which this policy could be posted in plain site. Maybe make it fun, it would seem that with a tour bus, the slip and fall liability would be the real concern. Maybe waivers? Sounds like a beverage lawyer may be the one to consult on helping you shape your policies. You can always blame in the lawyers, nobody will mind that.

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I'm sure there are other inexpensive solutions that actually could work today but here's one about a year away - a breathalyzer app - they just raised funding on indiegogo (similar to kickstarter). Just get used to having visitors breathing all over your phone :)http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/breathometer-a-smartphone-breathalyzer

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