April 25, 2014

Wyden Announces Decision that Clears the Way for the Sale of Wine Growlers in Oregon

Federal Agency’s Decision to Rescind Labeling, Bookkeeping Order Ends Conflict with New Oregon Law

Portland, OR – Oregon Senator Ron Wyden today announced that the federal agency that regulates the sale of alcohol has agreed to rescind an order than would have blocked the sale of wine growlers in Oregon.

In a letter to members of the Oregon delegation the administrator of the federal Alcohol, Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau Bureau’s administrator wrote that he is immediately rescinding its ruling with respect to wine sold in growlers.

“This is news that deserves a toast – Wine growlers are once again legal in the State of Oregon,” Wyden said. “I want to thank the Alcohol, Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau for managing to break through the bureaucratic morass and finding a common sense solution.”

Last month, the Federal Alcohol, Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, which is charged with regulating and taxing alcohol producers, announced that it would require that retailers selling wine in refillable containers known as growlers be subject to the same burdensome recordkeeping, labeling and registration requirements as large wine bottling operations.

The regulation was in conflict with the intent of the Oregon Legislature, which last spring unanimously voted to allow Oregon retailers to sell wine growlers. In response, Wyden and other members of the delegation asked that ruling be rescinded. 

“I saw this issue as an example of a federal agency that is out of touch with the times,” Wyden said. “In the letter to me and other members of the Oregon delegation today, the bureau acknowledged as much by saying that it needed to modernize its regulations regarding the sale of wine growlers.”

While TTB has withdrawn the current ruling, the Bureau has left the door open to develop future regulation to accommodate retail sale of wine growlers, only after soliciting public comment from consumers and the industry. 

The Oregon wine industry generates $3 billion a year in economic activity and provides more than 13,000 jobs. Wyden was joined at the news conference by owners of Oregon wineries and representatives of the Oregon Winegrowers Association.