Gov. Kay Ivey has signed into law a bill allowing the opening of wineries in Alabama’s 24 dry counties. The measure becomes effective in August.
Ivey signed Senate Bill 397 on May 26. Sponsored by Sen. Andrew Jones, who represents Cherokee County, the act empowers the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board to license wineries for the sale, shipment and delivery of wine to licensed distributors inside or outside the state. Licensed wine manufacturers may distill, produce, ferment, bottle or compound wine in a dry county, but they are still prohibited from selling their products within those counties except in wet municipalities.
The law prohibits the selling of wine directly to any retailer or for consumption on the premises where it is sold. Sale or distribution of wine in containers other than original approved vessels is also prohibited by the act.
The new measure follows closely on the heels of SB 167, which permits Alabama wineries to sell directly to consumers at special events, and SB 294 — an act authorizing wine manufacturers to sell directly to retailers without using a distributor.
Compromise, bill sponsor says
Jones, who sponsored all three bills, told Alabama Media Group he sponsored SB 397 because of a few constituents who were interested in entering the wine industry but couldn’t under current legislation.
“[The measure respects] the dry county, the will of the voters not to have alcohol sales in the county but still [allows] something to manufacture and produce,” said Jones.
HB 437, known as the “wine shipment bill” also becomes effective in August, allowing winemakers licensed as direct shippers to ship wine directly to buyers in Alabama who are at least 21 years old.
Also in August, HB 539 takes effect, increasing the amount of alcohol which breweries and distilleries can sell to customers for off-premise consumption.
Other alcohol-related bills signed by Gov. Ivey in April will permit retailers, restaurants and manufacturers to deliver alcohol directly to customers and grant wineries the option to sell products directly to consumers at special events.