Beer and wine samples could be coming soon to a farmers' market near you under a bill that the state Senate passed today.
In a 41-4 vote, the Senate passed Senate Bill 5029, a measure by Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles that would set up a pilot project, monitored by the Liquor Control Board, to allow farmers market vendors to offer samples of Washington wines and microbrews.
“I think this bill is very helpful for consumers,” said Kohl-Welles, a Seattle Democrat. “It introduces us to different products that we may not otherwise even know about.”
Because the wines for sale at farmers markets can be more expensive than wine at the grocery store, Kohl-Welles said she would be more inclined to buy wines at Seattle farmers markets if she could try them first.
Under the bill, the Liquor Control Board would set up a pilot project for beer and wine sampling at 10 farmers markets in the state between July 1, 2011 and Sept. 30, 2012. Samples would have to be two ounces or less and a single market visitor could sample no more than four ounces all together.
The proposal is modeled on a similar pilot project for beer and wine sampling in grocery stores that the Legislature authorized in 2008. After that project ended, the Legislature passed a 2010 law that allows grocery stores to offer samples if they get a $200 endorsement.
Brian Smith, a spokesman for the Liquor Control Board, said the grocery store program has generally been a success, though there have been some instances where the board found that minors were served samples.
In December, the board reported that 195 stores had endorsements to offer beer and wine samples and 16 more were pending.
To go into effect, the farmers’ market bill still has to pass out of the House of Representatives and go to the governor for a signature.