The Washington State Liquor Control Board has selected the Anacortes Food Pavilion to participate in a yearlong pilot program that allows on-premise wine and beer tastings, starting October 1, in a limited number of stores.
In addition to the 15 independently owned stores, such as Food Pavilion, 15 stores that are part of four nationally known chains of grocery stores will participate in the pilot. The allocated amount of stores for each chain is approximately proportionate to the number of submissions. The pilot will include seven Safeway stores, five Fred Meyer/QFC stores, two Haggen/Top Foods stores, and one Albertsons store.
The Legislature directed the pilot during the 2008 Legislative Session. The liquor control board will provide guidance and oversight for the pilot, and will submit a report including findings, complaints and comments about the pilot to the Legislature on Dec. 1, 2009.
In June 2008, the WSLCB invited Washington grocery stores that hold a grocery store license to send in a letter of interest indicating their desire to participate in the pilot. Participating stores must operate a fully enclosed retail area encompassing at least 9,000 square feet, and the primary activity of the store must be the retail sale of grocery products for off-premises consumption.
Each store may have a total of 12 tastings on premises during the pilot. A store is limited to one tasting a month, and it must conduct a minimum of six tastings over the course of the pilot. Beer and wine samples must be two ounces or less, and customers can have up to a total of four ounces. Store employees must be able to observe all tasting participants in a designated tasting area to ensure that minors and apparently intoxicated persons cannot possess or consume alcohol.
Liquor enforcement officers will attend each store's first tasting. Officers will regularly conduct announced and unannounced visits and compliance checks throughout the pilot to monitor compliance with the pilot's guidelines and ensure all alcohol related state laws and regulations are followed.