Home Bills strengthen ties between state, distillers industry

Bills strengthen ties between state, distillers industry


virginia distillers associationLast week members of the Virginia Distillers Association visited the State Capitol to thank legislators for their support of Senate Bill 1448 and House Bill 2029, which are identical bills designed to allow Virginia distilleries to sell bottles at events conducted for the purpose of featuring and educating the consuming public about spirits.

The bills have been ushered through the first-half of the General Assembly session with unanimous bipartisan support from the Senate and the House; and are proceeding into crossover this week for subsequent review.

“I am excited about how the industry has grown and even more excited about the economic opportunities the industry will provide to Virginians for years to come,” Senate Bill 1448 patron Creigh Deeds said in a statement.

House Bill 2029 Co-Patrons Delegates Kory and Freitas added in that they are “proud to support entrepreneurial small businesses and encourage the growth of the Virginia spirits industry.”

Virginia legislators are becoming more aware of the fact that Virginia’s burgeoning craft spirits industry can expand its fiscal impact to the state, through increasing market access and tourism.

“With several simple policy, regulatory, and statutory changes, the industry will become more sustainable, a greater economic driver for the Commonwealth, and become more attractive for outside investments,” said Gareth Moore, VDA president and CEO of Virginia Distillery Company in Lovingston.

“We were received enthusiastically by our Senators and Delegates during our recent Legislative Day, and look forward to partnering with them to strengthen our industry.”

The Virginia spirits industry has been growing fast over the last few years. One of the many goals of the VDA is to define in detail the economic impact of the Virginia spirits industry; such as the number of full and part-time employees, spirits related tourism expenditures, and the amount of Virginia agriculture used in the production of Virginia spirits.

Initial estimates indicate the industry employs over 500 Virginians, and that distilleries are investing over $3 million in Virginia agriculture annually.

“Virginia’s fast growing craft beverage industry is playing a key role in economic growth across the Commonwealth,” says Secretary of Commerce and Trade Todd P. Haymore. “Particularly in our rural regions and through increased agricultural production opportunities for our family farms. With nearly 50 licensed distilleries today – a 350 percent increase from 2008 – and a reputation for producing the highest quality distilled spirits, I believe the stage is set for more growth in the coming years.

“I’m pleased to continue working with Governor McAuliffe, the General Assembly, Virginia ABC leadership, the Virginia Tourism Corporation, the Virginia Distillers Association, and many others to further enhance the growth and sustainability of this sector that is helping to drive the new Virginia economy.”

As more and more distilleries are opening their doors for business in Virginia, the state is realizing that the spirits industry is an additional asset to its hospitality and tourism portfolio, similar to the Virginia wine and beer industries. The Virginia Tourism Corporation has done an exceptional job in positioning these industries as culinary destinations to travelers both in state and out of state.

During the VDA’s recent Legislative Day, VDA board members met with VTC officials to discuss future collaborative promotions geared towards activating tourism, such as the development of a Virginia Spirits Trail, the statewide campaign September Virginia Spirits Month, and much more.

Virginia ABC has also been working with the Virginia Distillers Association to improve the regulatory landscape. Effective as of August 1, 2016, restaurants and mixed-beverage licensees can now purchase Virginia spirits directly from Virginia distilleries. Additional initiatives such as a statewide discount on all Virginia spirits throughout September Virginia Spirits Month, and more are actively being developed for launch later this year by Virginia ABC and the VDA.



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