Raise Your Glass, Virginia
Filed Under: Business, Politics | Posted: 04/06/2011 at 5:46PM
Comments | Region: United States | Virginia
By Katherine Coates
Capital News Service
RICHMOND, Va. – Virginia wine enthusiasts are buzzing, and it’s not for the reason you think. A new state law will allow customers to take their favorite bottles of wine out to dinner with them.
Sen. Jeff McWaters, who proposed the new law, said it will help support Virginia’s growing wine industry.
The new rules, McWaters said, “give one the opportunity to buy Virginia wine at a Virginia winery and take it to a restaurant in that community for dinner – all while adhering to safety regulations.”
McWaters, a Republican from Virginia Beach, sponsored Senate Bill 1292 during the General Assembly’s recent session. Under the measure, any ABC-licensed restaurant may allow customers to bring a bottle of wine into the establishment and drink it on the premises. Restaurants that do so will be able to charge patrons a “corkage fee.”
The assembly passed the bill, and Gov. Bob McDonnell signed it into law. It will take effect July 1.
Winery owners in Virginia are excited about the new law and believe it will help promote their products. According to the Virginia Wine Board, the wine industry in Virginia has grown in the last 10 years and Virginia is currently the fifth-largest wine-producing state.
Jennifer McCloud, from Chrysalis Vineyard in Middleburg, Va., said that in recent years, Virginia wineries have been producing a more sophisticated product that many haven’t tried.
“Some people have a stale perception of Virginia wine,” McCloud said. “We have a unique identity.”
Jim Law, the owner of Linden Vineyards in Linden, Va., has been in Virginia wine for about 30 years. He doesn’t think the new law will affect his business too much, but it will affect him personally. When hosting visiting wine makers, Law would like to go out to dinner and share special wines from his vineyard.
“If I go to the restaurant, they may have my wine, but not the wine I want to share,” he said. “To be able to bring older vintages from our library is really nice.”
Restaurants will be permitted to charge a corkage fee for opening and serving the wine. The fee is supposed to help with the restaurant’s loss of revenue.
Law said he would be open to paying between $20 and $40 for a corkage fee. Many restaurants in Virginia are aware of the new law, but none would comment on what they will charge or do about the corkage fees.
McCloud said she often won’t go to a restaurant if it doesn’t have a good wine list. She predicts the new law will benefit restaurants.
“I think we are going to see an increase in visitation to restaurants. Often, I want to bring my own bottle of wine … to share with a quality food,” McCloud said.
Corkage fees are common in large wine-producing states like California and New York.