New Law Will Allow St. George Spirits, Other Craft Distilleries to Offer Paid Tastings

Assemblymember Nancy Skinner will hold a press conference at the Alameda distillery Tuesday.

The exterior of the St. George Spirits-Hangar One building. Photo credit: Rena Ragimova.
The exterior of the St. George Spirits-Hangar One building. Photo credit: Rena Ragimova.
St. George Spirits, the Alameda Point-based maker of Hangar One vodka, absinthe and other distilled spirits, will soon be able to offer tastings similar to those available at wineries and breweries.

The Taste California Act (AB 933), authored by Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner (D-15th District) and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in September, will allow artisan distillers to showcase their products by offering paid tastings. The new law goes into effect Jan. 1, 2014.

Currently St. George Spirits offers a $15 "basic training" tour of the distillery with complimentary tastings. Tours are available Wednesday through Saturday, noon to 7 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Reservations are advised.

"Until now, California was among only four states that prohibited distillery tasting rooms," Skinner said in a statement.

Skinner, Lance Winters of St. George Spirits and representatives of other craft distillers will kick off a "Taste the Spirit of the Holidays" campaign Tuesday, Nov. 19, at noon with a press conference at the Alameda distillery, 2601 Monarch St., Alameda.

The effort by Skinner and the California Artisanal Distillers Guild to support local businesses builds on new changes to a liquor law that has been in place since 1934, the assemblymember's statement says.

"The new law will allow artisan distillers to provide tastings under similar terms as breweries and wineries," it says. "Prohibition-era regulations have impeded efforts to grow and market regional hand-crafted spirits on a wider scale."

About 35 craft distilleries in California will benefit from the new law.

St. George Spirits was founded by Jörg Rupf in 1982 and moved into its current location at the former Naval Air Station Alameda in 2004. It's served as the anchor for a section of Alameda Point called — informally — "Booze Alley," close to Rock Wall Wine Company and the newish Faction Brewing.

You may read more about St. George Spirits on the distillery's website here.

'Like' Alameda Patch on Facebook / Follow us on Twitter @AlamedaPatch / Share your thoughts in the comments section below
Spanky M November 18, 2013 at 11:29 PM
So they have been doing it already, but now it is legal? I seem to recall paying for a tasting at St. George a few years ago. Am I missing something?
Jonas Grumby November 19, 2013 at 11:01 AM
I agree with Spanky M! Have we been paying for what should have been complimentary? If so, I'll take my refund in a bottle please.
Nina November 19, 2013 at 12:29 PM
You were paying for the tour; the drinks we're complimentary and, therefore, not illegal. ;-)
Dana November 19, 2013 at 11:39 PM
I personally have been going to St. George for years. Well until the recent renovation and the new hipster vibe. I have never taken the tour. They also used to only offer tours a few days a week. So if I'm in on a Wednesday at 1 how can I take a tour on Friday at 5? The last time I went they asked if I wanted to tour. Seems in theory that a tour would have been required to taste.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »