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Cat Fight at the OLCC – Let the Fur Fly

Hold onto your hat’s folks there is a storm a brewing down at the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC). Laws pertaining to how the retail wine outlets purchase their wine has changed dramatically this year leaving some of the wholesale distribution companies out in the cold.

OLCC and Distributors Duke it out These are not exactly the types of guys who get shut out so I would watch closely as the fur begins to fly; but before we get into this story I thought you might enjoy reading who is exempt from OLCC licensing requirements. During my research about this subject, I uncovered a few ORS statutes that left me scratching my head. Who Knew?
left quote 471.162 Persons exempted from license requirement. (1) Hospitals, sanitariums, convalescent homes, rest homes, retirement homes and facilities for the care of the elderly that have been licensed or registered by the state may sell and serve alcoholic beverages to patients, inmates and residents, and to bona fide visitors and guests of patients, inmates and residents, without a license issued under this chapter. Facilities authorized to sell and serve alcoholic beverages without a license under this subsection may not sell or serve alcoholic beverages after 10 p.m. except upon a physician’s prescription. right quote

This provision is a little scary up until the inmates are mentioned then it gets a lot scary, even scarier after the 10PM cutoff unless the Doc say’s its OK is included.

left quote (2) A person who operates a private residence that is not a boarding house but that accommodates transient guests for a limited duration may sell and serve wine, malt beverages and cider to registered overnight guests without a license. Facilities authorized to sell and serve alcoholic beverages without a license under this subsection must have six or fewer guest units. right quote

So it appears charging for alcohol (wine, beer and hard cider only) at your party is OK if your guests are registered overnighters and you have six or less guestrooms.

left quote (4) A pharmacist licensed under the laws of this state may sell alcoholic beverages without a license. Pharmacists may only sell alcoholic beverages under the provisions of this section if the alcoholic beverages are drugs as defined in ORS 689.005. A pharmacist may sell alcoholic beverages under the provisions of this subsection pursuant to a prescription, in containers of not more than one-quart capacity.

The one-quart limit ensures that the pharmacists do not compete with wine wholesalers.

left quote (6) A nonprofit or charitable organization registered with the state may sell wine and malt beverages in factory-sealed containers at auction without a license. The organization must receive written approval from the commission before conducting a sale under this subsection. No more than one sale in a 12-month period may be conducted by an organization under the provisions of this subsection.

Enobytes (my favorite non-profit) will announce their annual auction date soon.

Well, enough of the MST3K type assault on the ORS and OLCC and on to the subject at hand; unraveling the new provisions that will allow out-of-state wineries to ship directly to Oregon retailers. The House bill sponsored by Representative Mike Shaufler passed in the 74th Oregon Legislative Assembly held in 2007:

left quote Chapter 651 Oregon Laws 2007, AN ACT, HB 2677: Relating to wine self-distribution permits; creating new provisions; and amending ORS 471.155, 471.311, 471.404 and 473.150. Be It Enacted by the People of the State of Oregon:

SECTION 2. (1) The Oregon Liquor Control Commission may issue a wine self-distribution permit to a United States manufacturer of wine or cider. The commission may issue a wine self-distribution permit only to a manufacturer of wine or cider that:
(2) The holder of a wine self-distribution permit may sell at wholesale and transport wine or cider that the manufacturer produces directly to the commission, or to retail licensees in the manner provided by this section. A wine self-distribution permit allows the holder to sell wine or cider that the holder produces only to retail licensees who hold a valid endorsement issued by the commission authorizing receipt of wine or cider from the holder of a wine self-distribution permit.
(5) A retail licensee may receive wine or cider from the holder of a wine self-distribution permit only if the licensee has received prior authorization from the commission. Prior authorization under this subsection must be made by an endorsement to the license for the premises where the wine or cider will be received. The commission may not charge or collect a fee for an endorsement under this subsection. right quote

I have only included sections 2 and 5 as they are the only two sections that specifically outline the pertinent changes. If you are a legal eagle, I anxiously await your brief that squashes my interpretations. Please remember to I.R.A.C. it first. Shepardizing only if you must.

left quote SECTION 6. ORS 471.404 is amended to read: 471.404. (1) No alcoholic liquor shall be imported into this state by any person not holding a brewery, winery, distillery or wholesaler’s license, except as follows: (f) Wine or cider that is sold and transported by the holder of a wine self-distribution permit to a retail licensee that has the endorsement described in section 2 (5) of this 2007 Act. right quote

Does this mean that under ORS 471.404 distillers from out of state would now be able to sell to the licensed retailers as long as they have the OLCC’s OK?

The other big story in this upheaval is that the OLCC will be sued later this year by the wholesalers for the right to distribute distilled spirits to retailers other than OLCC approved locations. Really, it’s only fair if the OLCC is going to take away a large part of the wholesalers business then they should take some of the OLCC’s distilled spirits revenues.

Remember, I told you these are not the kind of guys you want to leave out in the cold. Let the fur fly.

~ Marc Hinton

This post was written by:

- who has written 386 posts on Enobytes Wine Online.

Marc has over twenty years experience in the food & wine industry and is committed to celebrating hospitality with pride. He is a wine blogger contributor to OregonLive.com (Wine Bytes) and has also appeared on Portland's "Vine Time" on News Radio 750 KXL and on California's Central Coast "From the Growing of the Grape to the Glass" on KUHL-AM 1410. He is also the author of A History of Pacific Northwest Cuisine: Mastodons to Molecular Gastronomy. Follow Marc on twitter @macdaddy_m

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One Response to “Cat Fight at the OLCC – Let the Fur Fly”

  1. Steve says:

    wow. I didn’t realize physicians had so much pull :)

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