Senate approves Wiggins bill for winemakers, nonprofit organizations

SACRAMENTO – The State Senate gave unanimous approval Wednesday to Senate Bill 157, legislation by North Coast Senator Patricia Wiggins (D-Santa Rosa).

The vote means the bill now heads to the Assembly for consideration.

If approved by the Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, SB 157 would establish the “Non-profit Organization Equal Participation Act,” for the purpose of providing continuity and equal participation for non-profit organizations in sanctioned wine-related events and to provide orderly direction for wine producers.

Wiggins, who represents the premium wine-growing regions of Lake, Mendocino, Napa and Sonoma counties in the Senate, says her bill is “simply intended to provide continuity and clarity within the ABC Act for both winemakers and non-profit organizations participating in sanctioned wine related events.

Wiggins, who also chairs the Senate Select Committee on California’s Wine Industry, introduced related legislation in 2003 and 2007.

Under existing law, licensed winegrowers can conduct wine tastings off premises, and can accept orders for purchase of their wines off premises, but any sales transactions must be completed back at the winegrowers’ place of business.

Existing law also authorizes the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control to issue a wine sales event permit to allow a licensed winegrower to sell their bottled wine at festivals, county fairs, civic/cultural celebrations or similar events held by a range of non-profit organizations as defined in the state Revenue and Taxation Code.

Until last year, the ABC permitted orders to be taken at wine-tasting events held by eight categories of non-profit organizations, but SB 108, authored by Senator Wiggins and signed into law by the Governor, expanded the list to include 11 types of nonprofit groups.

Visit Wiggins' Web site at