New Virginia ABC Laws Took Effect July 1, 2020

Several new ABC-Related laws went into effect this past summer on July 1, 2020. We have compiled the new laws (which can be found on the Virginia ABC website) which are most likely to affect breweries, wineries, distilleries, and restaurants in Virginia.

Mixed Beverage Referendum (HB2634 and SB1110) – This law permits Virginia ABC to sell alcoholic beverages and restaurants to sell mixed beverages in all counties, cities, towns and supervisors’ districts, unless 10% of the qualified voters in those jurisdictions petition the circuit court asking that a referendum be held on the question of whether the sale of alcoholic beverages by restaurants licensed by ABC should be prohibited within that jurisdiction. Results of previous referenda taken prior to July 1, 2019, will be effective for five years after the date of the referenda, and previous establishments exempt from local mixed beverage referenda will continue licensure.

ABC Net Payment Program (SB698) – This law requires Virginia ABC to allow licensed distillers to enter the Net Payment Program if they have a distillery store agreement and meet certain requirements for entry into the program. The Net Payment Program would allow these licensed distillers to submit electronic payments to Virginia ABC for applicable taxes and markups.

Additional measures:

  • SB395 – eliminates Virginia’s one-year residency requirement for the issuance of alcoholic beverage licenses to conform to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Tennessee Wine and Spirits Retailers Association v. Thomas. This ruling held that state residency requirements violated the Commerce Clause.
  • SB181 – reduces the acreage necessary for Virginia ABC to issue a Commercial Lifestyle Center license from locations with 25 acres to locations with 10 acres. This allows visitors at a mall or shopping center to buy drinks at a restaurant and leave the restaurant to enjoy it in the center’s common areas.
  • SB496 – authorizes culinary lodging resorts to obtain a mixed beverage restaurant license that allows for the sale of alcoholic beverages for on premise consumption on areas approved by Virginia ABC, including any outdoor areas under control of the licensee.
  • HB949 and SB689 – increases the number of local special event licenses available each year from 12 to 16 events per year. This combined bill also restricts the duration of any licensed local special event to a maximum of three consecutive days.
  • SB833 – increases the number of annual tasting licenses issued to any person from four to 12. The bill does not affect tastings conducted by manufacturers of alcoholic beverages, wholesalers or their representatives. These groups need a tasting permit for their products.
  • SB497 – allows mixed beverage-licensed restaurants operated by private, nonprofit or for-profit clubs exclusively for members and their guests to sell and serve mixed beverages for on-premises consumption, and sell spirits that are packaged in original closed containers with a maximum capacity of 2 fluid ounces or 50 milliliters purchased from ABC for on premise consumption.
  • SB441 – permits winery licensees to sell at retail the brands of wine that the winery manufactures on the licensed premises described in the winery license for on premise consumption or in closed containers for off-premise consumption.
  • SB1029 – permits gourmet shop licensees to allow distilleries to participate in tastings at the gourmet shop.
  • SB414 – removes the provision that restricts limited distiller licensees to manufacturing a maximum of 36,000 gallons of spirits per year.
  • HB1088 – eliminates the requirement that food cooked or prepared on the premises be served at each retail on premise location selling alcoholic beverages as part of a walking tour permit. Instead, the walking tour will go to retail on premise locations selling alcoholic beverages. The fee charged by the licensee will also include any food offered as part of the tour, but food is not required.
  • HB37 – narrows ABC permit requirements to keep, store or possess any still or distilling apparatus to include only instances in which the still or distilling apparatus is licensed for distilling alcohol.
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