Wine Tasting may Soon be Allowed at Farmers Markets

Jun 13, 2014

Along with fresh food, you may soon be able to taste wine at farmers markets. The proposed legislation has met with little resistance in the state legislature, but not everyone is in favor of the plan.
Credit Flickr user Michael Porter

In Wine Country, tasting opportunities seem to be here, there and everywhere. That may soon include your local farmers market. 

 A proposed bill (AB 2400) would allow for winemakers to give small tastings at certified farmers markets, under certain conditions. Wineries or cider makers that grow 100 percent of their fruit, and who produce and bottle their product on their own site will be able to give small sample tasting, up to a maximum of 3-oz. per person per day.  "This is really just a sample we're talking about," says Jon Phillips owner and winemaker at Inspiration Vineyards in Santa Rosa and a supporter of the bill. "This is not about drinking."  The law would allow for only producer to taste per market. Tastings would take place in a cordoned off area, away from the main traffic flow.  For producers like Phillips, currently applying for a permit to sell at farmers markets, this change be a big boon. In the past consumers have proven reluctant to pay $20 or more for a bottle of wine that they've not yet tried.  "It'll give the consumer a chance to actually try the product before they buy the product and that’s one of the general themes of farmers markets," he says, "that you can taste before you buy." At the Healdsburg Farmers market, however, some vendors express reservation.  Peter Leary, owner of Pete's Eats, is selling Bahn Mi sandwiches. "I also have the perspective of working at a winery. . . . I want the industry to survive and thrive, because I'm in it. But then I'm also conscious of alcohol’s effect on the community. I have mixed feelings about it."  Want to visit a farmers market? The Sonoma County Agricultural Commission lists the certified farmers markets in the county