PA 09-47—SB 312

General Law Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING THE SALE OF CIDER AND APPLE WINE, WINE FESTIVALS AND THE HOURS OF OPERATION OF FARM WINERIES

SUMMARY: This act allows a holder of a manufacturer permit for cider and apple wine to sell and ship cider or apple wine (1) outside the state and (2) to consumers in the state in the same manner as wine is sold and shipped. It also allows out-of-state cider manufacturers to obtain a permit to ship in the state cider with up to 6% alcohol and apple wine with up to 15% alcohol.

In addition, the act creates two types of liquor permits allowing their holders to host or participate in wine festivals. It allows an (1) association promoting the manufacture and sale of farm wine in this state, or its not-for-profit subsidiary, and (2) an out-of-state entity to each host one festival per calendar year.

Finally, the act extends the hours farm wineries can sell wine for on- or off-premises consumption and hold wine tastings by allowing them to close at 9: 00 p. m. instead of 8: 00 p. m. every night.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage, except for the provision extending the hours of operation for farm wineries, which is effective July 1, 2009.

SHIPPING PROCEDURES

The act allows cider manufacturers to ship directly to consumers in the same manner as farm wineries, requiring permittees to:

1. ensure that all packages of cider and apple wine shipped to Connecticut consumers bear labels stating: “CONTAINS ALCOHOL—SIGNATURE OF A PERSON AGE 21 OR OLDER REQUIRED FOR DELIVERY;

2. obtain the signature of a person age 21 or older before delivering, after requiring the signer to prove his or her age by showing a valid driver's license or Connecticut identity card;

3. file tax returns and pay all sales and alcoholic beverage taxes due to the Department of Revenue Services (DRS);

4. report to the Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) a separate and complete record of all sales and shipments to consumers in the state, on a ledger or similar form, which readily presents a chronological account of the permittee's dealings with each consumer;

5. hold an in-state transporter's permit or ship to Connecticut consumers using a delivery company that holds such a permit; and

6. clearly and conspicuously state their liquor permit number when advertising or offering cider or apple wine for direct shipment to Connecticut consumers on the Internet or any other on-line computer network.

The act also requires out-of-state shippers to allow DRS and DCP to perform records audits and sign a written consent to the jurisdiction of the state. In-state permittees are already subject to state enforcement.

The law prohibits shipping (1) more than five gallons of cider or apple wine in a two-month period to anyone in Connecticut or (2) to any town in the state where the sale of alcoholic beverages is prohibited under the local option provision of the Liquor Control Act.

WINE FESTIVAL PERMITS

Types

The act establishes two permit types for hosting wine festivals. One permit allows farm winery manufacturer permittees to participate in an annual festival hosted by an association or its not-for-profit subsidiary promoting the manufacture and sale of farm wine in this state. Only one festival may be held per year and only one wine festival permit may be issued per year to each manufacturer permittee. The act allows holders of a farm winery permit or an out-of-state farm winery permit to also hold a wine festival permit.

The second permit allows an out-of-state person or organization holding a valid permit issued by another state authorizing the manufacture of farm wine to participate in an out-of-state wine festival held in Connecticut. Only one out-of-state festival permit may be issued per year, regardless of the number of participating organizations. The act does not specify the type of organization that must host this event.

Permit Privileges

Both permits allow the sale and shipment by a permittee to persons outside the state; free samples and tasting at the event; sale of sealed bottles for off-premises consumption; and sale of wine by the glass at the event, if the glass has the name and date of the festival on it.

Permit Requirements

Permit recipients must notify the local chief municipal law enforcement official in writing of the hours and dates of the festival no later than seven days before the event. Hours for festivals must be between 11: 00 a. m. and 8: 00 p. m. on Sundays and 10: 00 a. m. and 8: 00 p. m. all other days, though towns may vote to further limit the hours in which sale or tasting may be permitted. A permittee may not sell or offer wine not made by the permittee. The cost of either permit is $75 and both have a three-day limit.

An out-of-state entity winery festival permittee must disclose to individuals purchasing admission, at the time of purchase, any restriction or limitation of such admission, including the maximum number of wine or brandy glasses to which the purchaser is entitled by admission to the festival. The act does not place these requirements on permittees of the Connecticut wine festival.

BACKGROUND

Apple Wine and Hard Cider

The law allows holders of manufacturer permits for cider and apple wine to produce hard cider with up to 6% alcohol and apple wine with up to 15% alcohol. Although both are made by fermenting apple cider or juice, the distinction between hard cider and apple wine is generally based on alcohol content, which is traditionally above 7% for apple wine and below 7% for hard cider.

Related Court Case

In Granholm v. Heald, 544 U. S. 460 (2005), the U. S. Supreme Court considered whether a state's regulatory scheme that permits in-state wineries to ship alcohol directly to consumers but restricts the ability of out-of-state wineries to do so violates the Commerce Clause in light of 2 of the 21st Amendment. In general, the U. S. Constitution's Commerce Clause prohibits states from adopting laws that benefit in-state economic interests to the detriment of out-of-state interests. In similar broad terms, 2 of the 21st Amendment forbids transporting or importing liquor into a state in violation of its laws.

The Court held that laws banning or severely restricting the ability of out-of-state shippers to ship wine directly to consumers while allowing in-state wineries to do so violate the Commerce Clause. The Court's opinion stressed that, if states choose to allow the direct shipment of wine to consumers, they must do so impartially.

OLR Tracking: MR: JLK: PF: DF