Effective August 8, 2016, Act. 39 amendments to the Pennsylvania Liquor Code signed into law by Governor Wolk become effective. The Act is aimed at increasing the availability and promotion of Pennsylvania alcohol products. The Pennslyvania Liquor Control Board has issued a SUMMARY of information relevant to Licensees. The act is aimed at creating parity between its categories of manufacturers.

Of particular interest, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board has created a new direct wine shipper license (DWS) wherein a wine manufacturer may ship up to 36 cases of wine to Pennsylvania residents within a calendar year for personal use regardless whether produced in Pennsylvania, another state, or country. All wine however must be transported via a Pennsylvania licensed transporter-for-hire.

The big news of course it that those entities holding a restaurant or hotel license, the new law allows for the sale of wine up to three liters per single transaction, a matter of interest to the growing number of grocery stores.

Act 39 expands the availability of special exposition permits for Pennsylvania ciders, breweries, and distilleries which where historically only available to Pennsylvania Limited Wineries.

For more on this new change in law click here: Summary of Changes In Alcohol Law in PA.

PLCB Regulatory Changes Comes To Pennsylvania Limited Wineries

Effective March 1, 2014, the Pennslyvania Liquor Control Board announced regulatory changes that affect Limited Winery Licensees around the state. The PLCB has eliminated the requirement that prohibited in state wineries from selling bottles for less than the same wine sells for at the state operated Wine and Spirit Stores. The recent change is designed to promote in-state wineries. For more read: PLCB Changes Allow Wineries To Sell Products Below The State Sell Price.

Pennsylvania Winery, Bar, and Restaurant Licensee’s Encouraged To Ring In The New Year Responsibly

As New Year’s Eve 2014 approaches and partygoers abound, Pennsylvania Limited Winery, Bar, and Restaurant Licensee’s are reminded to protect their licenses by remembering not to serving visibly intoxicated or underage persons. Liquor Enforcement Officers from the Pennsylvania State Police will be out and about, enforcing the Pennsylvania Liquor Code.

Both uniformed and undercover liquor enforcement officers will be making visits throughout the evening to Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board Licensees to enforce compliance with the Liquor Code. Your liquor license is an asset, an investment, by which your business profits are earned. Protect what’s yours. Ring in the New Year responsibly.
For more information see: Partygoers, servers urged to celebrate safely.

Here’s What Every Pennsylvania Liquor And Limited Winery Licensee Should Know

Pennsylvania’s Governor Corbett recently signed into law Act 11 (HB 148) which has made numerous changes to various sections of the Liquor Code. The Act made changes include adding a definition of “happy hour” and permitting retail liquor licensees to hold happy hour pricing up to four (4) hours per day and up to fourteen (14) hours per week. “Happy hour” is now defined as “the period of time during which a licensee discounts alcoholic beverages”. While the maximum period remains fourteen (14 hours per week, licensees will be able to adjust the length of their daily happy hours to take advantage of slow/busy days as long as the maximum limits are not exceeded. The hours need not be consecutive, but prohibitions against giving discounts between midnight and closing remains intact.

Three large changes have occurred for Pennsylvania’s Limited Wineries.

1) Effective immediately a limited winery can sell food for consumption on or off the main licensed premises and at its additional Board approved locations. It can also now sell wine by the glass at both its main premises and its satellite locations.

2) Effective immediately, a limited winery is now allowed to sell its alcoholic products from 9:00 am to 11:00 p.m, extending from the old 9:00 p.m. closing. The old law regarding expanded hours for the holiday period has been deleted.

3) Effective July 28, 2011, a limited winery will be able to apply for a “farmers market permit” for the sale of its product at more than one (1) famers market at any given time. The permit fee is $250.00 annually and there is no limit as to the number of days it can be used in that year. The limited winery can sell by the bottle or in case lots. All sales must occur during the standard operating hours of the farmers market. Samples must be free and cannot exceed one (1) fluid ounce per brand.

For more on the new changes to the liquor laws read: What Licensees Should Know About Act 11 of 2011.

Pennsylvania’s Restaurant and Hospitality Industry “Happy Hours” Are Looking To Get Happier

A legislative bill by state Rep. John Payne, R-Dauphin was unanimously approved by the state’s House Liquor Control Committee and now moves to the full House for consideration. The bill would allow the restaurant and hospitality industry in Pennsylvania happy-hourto have longer “happy hours”. The bill is aimed at giving restaurants and bars greater flexibility and would also allow them to sell more wine to patrons for off premise consumption at offsite catering events.

Currently, “happy hours” are limited to two consecutive hours per day, with a 14 hour per week limit. The proposed changes would allow establishments to hold happy hours up to 14 hours a day but still be limited to not more than 14 hours a week. The 14 hours could be divided up however the proprietor wants thus allowing for greater flexibility. Happy hours would remain prohibited after midnight.

Under current law a restaurant with a liquor license cannot serve alcohol at off site catered events. The proposed legislative change would allow a restaurant’s liquor license to be valid for off premise catering. The proposed changes would not effect dry communities. Serving alcohol in dry communities would remain prohibited.

Finally, the proposed legislation would allow a patron to buy up to three bottles of unopened wine and take it home. Albeit this can be routinely a more expensive way to buy wine, proponents of the bill believe this change allows the customer a way to buy those “hard to find” wines.

In that the proposed legislation House Bill 148 is aimed at modernizing the state’s liquor code, Payne’s proposal has the support of the Pennsylvania Tavern and Restaurant Associations.

Will Pennsylvania Wine Consumers Swipe and Blow?

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board has recently introduced it’s new vending machines aka “wine kiosks” to the Commonwealth. Customers must swipe their ID, blow into a breathalyzer, and look into a security camera to buy their wine. A State employee then verifies that you are who you say you are and that you are also sober. If you pass the swipe and blow test you are approved to buy wine.

Based on the success of a recent trial run of two test kiosks, the PLCB has just announced it will be adding over 100 kiosks in grocery stores all over the Commonwealth.

A big question still outstanding is whether Pennsylvania produced wines will make it into the wine kiosks for consumer purchase. After all, if its good for Pennsylvanians to “eat local”, then why not “drink local”?

What say you?

Pennsylvania Wineries: Are You Getting Wine Lovers To Your Wine Or Your Wine To Your Wine Lovers?

When marketing your winery’s wine this harvest season, you may be creatively thinking of ways toPhiladelphia Festival 2
get wine lovers to your wine, or your wine to your wine lovers.   If your marketing efforts include the latter, you may wish to plan to host or participate in an event outside your winery’s usual business. That said, what are the requirements for a winery to participate in such an event?

In Pennsylvania, participating wineries in such events, should be properly licensed limited wineries in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  Limited wineries are licensed by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board that may produce alcoholic ciders, wines and wine coolers (subject to certain exceptions).  Because the sale of alcohol without a license is illegal in Pennsylvania, limited winery event participants would need to obtain a Wine Exposition Permit. A limited winery licensee may apply for and obtain a Wine Exposition Permit from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) in order to participate in wine and food expositions off the licensed premises.

The permit may be issued to a licensed limited winery for expositions, not to exceed five consecutive days. The total number of days may not exceed 40 days in a calendar year.   The permit allows the holder to sell its alcoholic ciders and wine by the glass, bottle or case. Tasting samples of one fluid once or less may be provided for free or for sale.

The exposition may be held indoors or outdoors with the primary purpose of educating the attendees of the availability, nature and quality of the Pennsylvania product wines and alcoholic ciders in conjunction with suitable food displays, demonstrations and sales.   The exposition may include arts and crafts, musical activities, cultural and agricultural exhibits and similar activities. The permit fee is thirty dollars ($30.00) per day.

The next time you’re looking for ways to get your wine to your wine lovers, start with a Wine Exposition Permit and get your wine on!!

So Who’s In Control of Pennsylvania’s Alcohol Beverage Industry?

Have you ever been curious as to why all the liquor stores in Pennsylvania are stated owned and20090730_plcb2logo_190x190 operated?  Have you ever wondered why Pennsylvania is routinely referred to as a “control state?”  You may be surprised to learn that Pennsylvania’s alcohol and beverage industry is run by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB).

The PLCB is an administrative board consisting of three members each appointed by the Governor of Pennsylvania with advice and consent of two-thirds of the Senate.   The three PLCB members are Chairman Patrick J. Stapleton III, Thomas F. Goldsmith, and Robert S. Marcus.

The PLCB’s acts as both participant and regulator in Pennsylvania’s alcohol and beverage industry. In the beer industry, PLCB acts as regulator only.   As a “control” state, Pennsylvania restricts private retail ownership of distribution outlets in the state.   The PLCB acts as wholesaler, purchasing liquor from manufacturers.   The PLCB then sells liquor to its liquor licensees who in turn sell to the public for on-premise consumption.    As retailer, PLCB sells to the consumer via its state store system for off premise consumption.   These stores are known as “Wine and Spirit” stores. The PLCB is one of the largest purchasers of wine and spirits in the United States.  Sales at state operated Wine and Spirit stores reached a record 1.84 Billion in fiscal year 2008-2009.

Enforcement of Pennsylvania’s liquor laws is handled by the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement (BLCE).   Today the PLCB operates over 600 stores.  The PLCB issues and renews approximately 21,000 licenses annually.

Licensing by the PLCB is based on a quota system.  The PLCB limits the number of liquor licenses based on population.   The license application process is governed by the Liquor Code and Board Regulations.

So who’s in control of the Commonwealth’s liquor industry?   The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board that’s who!!

It’s In the Bag! Bringing Your Own Bottle In A Tough Economy!!

totes_10-slideshowVerticle.jpg 286X430 pixels-1One of my favorite Bring Your Own Bottle (BYOB) restaurants is very nearby to my home. If you didn’t know whether liquor was served, one could soon figure that out by watching the brown bags and rattan wine cases under the arms of its many loyal patrons exiting the restaurant.

Today’s tough economy has caused foot traffic to increase in BYOB establishments. Restaurants with BYOB policies are now attracting avid foodies reluctant to pay $12.00 for a glass a wine when they can enjoy the entire bottle—BYOB. BYOB’s are great because you can bring your own wine without breaking the bank while at the same time sharing your favorite brand that was previously tucked away in your cellar.

In Pennsylvania the Liquor Code currently does not prohibit a person from bringing his or her own alcohol into any establishment. A restaurant is typically free to allow or disallow patrons from bringing their own alcohol on to its premises. The alcohol however, must be legally procured in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. If the restaurant chooses to prohibit the BYOB practice by a “house policy”, it must apply the policy uniformly without discrimination prohibited by law.

The Code however makes it unlawful for any person to possess any wine or liquor within Pennsylvania that has not been purchased through a Pennsylvania wine and spirits store, a licensed limited winery, or from an entity licensed to sell malt or brewed beverages for off-premises consumption. But foodies and wine lovers beware –what happens if you only partially consume the bottle you brought to dinner and now want to take it with you when you leave?

Well, in Pennsylvania if you leave the restaurant’s premises with an unfinished bottle of wine or liquor, you might be required to prove that you lawfully acquired the liquor or wine pursuant to Pennsylvania law. Thus, it is often suggested that folks bringing their own wine or liquor into a restaurant should have in their possession a receipt reflecting the purchase of their wine or liquor. Do keep in mind, that local ordinances may restrict BYOB establishments so you should consider checking in advance with the restaurant to see if any such ordinances or limitations exist.

Restaurateurs may still be held strictly liable of any violations of the Liquor Code that may occur on it premises regardless of whether they involve alcohol provided by the establishment or brought onto the premises by a customer. Potential civil liability can arise from permitting individuals to bring their own alcohol onto premises. As such you should contact an attorney on matters involving liquor law liability.

Bringing your own bottle is a great response to a tough economy. But remember, for both patrons and restaurant owners, potential liability resides “in the bag”.