Texas Distilleries, Wineries & Breweries Need Rescuing
Its summertime in Texas and in the world before COVID-19 many of us would be meeting up with friends at our local brewery to try a new beer on trivia night. On a Friday evening, some of us might gather at the local tasting room and listen to a talented musician. And on a Saturday we would hop in the car for a short road trip to a distillery to try the golden amber of a Texas whiskey, or a sweet and smooth Texas vodka.
However, new guidance from the TABC on the Governor’s Executive Order (GA-28) has forced the public closure of distilleries, wineries and breweries in addition to bars across the state.
There seems to be some kind of disconnect that the Governor is a supporter of “alcohol to go sales” at restaurants, but isn’t acting to waive direct sales restrictions. While the bigger companies are benefiting from more sales, the locals are suffering. And as Texans, don’t we all want to support our fellow Texans?
In a statement from TXWA Executive Director, Spencer Whelan, distilleries remind the Governor they stepped up when the state needed a hero, and now they need the state to come to their aid. They aren’t coming with hands open asking for a bailout, but rather a solution allowing them to sell their product directly to the consumer. Direct alcohol to consumer sales are legal in states like Virginia and Kentucky.
Statement From TX Whiskey Association
AUSTIN, TX JULY 23, 2020 — The Members of the Texas Whiskey Association, along with scores of distilleries across the state, were among the first to step up in the fight against COVID-19. In March, distillers pivoted their operations to the production and local distribution of alcohol-based sanitizers — donating hundreds of thousands of gallons and protecting countless lives of first-responders and frontline health workers. (estimated retail value of sanitizer donated $9.8 million)
Distilleries then modified their on-site tourism and customer service operations to not only meet, but exceed the protocols outlined by the state’s recommended reopening guidelines. At the same time, the existence of pre-COVID laws have effectively prohibited distillers from having feasible contactless sales options currently afforded to distilleries in several other states as well as other types of beverage alcohol manufacturers within our state.
Waive Restrictions That Limit Direct Sales Options
Now, the Office of the Governor and the TABC appear to be specifically limiting distillers’ revenue options to only in-person, drive-thru sales of 2 bottles per person, per 30 days — without options for contactless sales methods like shipping and delivery. While our members would love nothing more than to be able to operate as they did prior to COVID-19, that is currently not a reality and not in the interest of public health.
Therefore we ask again, as we did in the spring, for the Governor to waive the restrictions that limit direct-sales options for distillers. This would enable distillers to sell their products in a contactless manner, without arbitrary limits, and to ship their products directly to consumers with age-verified delivery.
The future of Texan’s health and economic prosperity is at risk. Failure to acknowledge this reality and implement common-sense, free-market permissions could result in the death of an entire industry that voluntarily came to the aid of our state when needed. Texas distillers are essential businesses for the health and safety of Texans. Now, they need the essential tools required to stay in business.
How To Get Involved
When this is all over, and believe me, we all hope it’s sooner rather than later, once again we’ll meet up with friends over our favorite adult beverages. But without a waiver from the governor, that cool brewery you loved or your favorite wine tasting room, might be gone. Visit StillStrongTX.com and write your state representative. Let them know you want, increased bottle sales limits, In-county delivery, and direct-to-consumer, age-verified shipping. If you’re at your local grocery store buy a six pack of Texas brewed beer or a case of Texas wine. Or if you’re dining out or ordering to go, add local beer or a drink made with Texas spirits to your order.