Bill passed to allow wine and liquor tasting events at ABC stores

By Tara Morgan - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - You could soon walk into an ABC store and taste liquor or wine before you buy a bottle. A bill was passed in the General Assembly Monday allowing tasting events at the state run stores.

You'd have to be 21 or older. While some say these state run facilities shouldn't be giving out alcohol samples, others are seeing green.

Wine sampling soon may not be limited to festivals, grocery stores and restaurants.

"The good side would be like people trying out things rather than buying the full bottle, however the bad side would be people abusing the system and keep taste testing until they're drunk," said Richmond resident Bridget Corcoran.

There is a limit as to how much alcohol or wine you can taste at one of these events. One and a half ounces max per person. That's a little less than one of those sample bottles for sale.

An ABC spokesman says only authorized distilled spirits and wine company representatives would be allowed to  conduct the tastings and must have a permit. Opponents say a state-run facility is no place to give away alcohol.

"It's a state run agency, but they don't own the distilleries," said Vickie Barnes who supports the idea.

"It's nice to support local viticulture," said local farmer Russell Bell.

Bell says while people should take part in the Virginia winery experience, sampling products closer to home couldn't hurt.   

"With the way things are right now giving out anything is kind of nice, but people buy more if they taste more. If you need extra motivation to support the state right now God knows the state budget could use it," said Russell.

The bill is now headed for the Governor's desk for his signature. We're told Governor McDonnell supports the bill.

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