A spectre is haunting California -- the spectre of thimble-sized wine samples at farmers markets. The California state legislature is getting together soon to likely approve Assembly Bill 2488, a new permit that would allow for winemakers to hold "an instructional tasting event on the subject of wine at a certified farmers' market." And in the process, according to the anti-booze interest group Alcohol Justice, erode the moral fabric of society as we know it.
"'Kids, you go on a pony ride while I taste the chardonnay,' is what you might hear a parent say at your local certified farmers' market if AB 2488 becomes law," says Bruce Lee Livingston, Executive Director/CEO of Alcohol Justice, in the agency's press release urging citizens to voice their dissent to the governor. He's also tapping into the deepest fear of parents across California who know that if they let themselves get distracted by even a drop of white wine, which is likely all that will be served to them at the winemaker's tent, their children will wander away into a life of heroin addiction and prostitution, assuming also that "pony rides" is code for drugs.
Yet that is not even the most outrageous claim in the press release, which begs Californians to protest the law on the grounds that it's a threat to public health and safety. "Children watching parents drinking alcohol when they shop for fruit or vegetables is a practice very damaging to impressionable young minds," is one of the main tenets of the argument. Let's hope for the future of the nation that America's youth is made of stronger stuff than that.
And we who are not abstemious should also hope that even though this particular bill is limited to wine tasting, it will eventually be expanded to include samples of local beer, cider, and spirits. Because even though Alcohol Justice for some reason believes that it's "not normal to drink alcoholic beverages from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. when most farmers' markets operate," anyone who has brunched in San Francisco knows better. And what farmers market visit wouldn't be improved with a fortifying sip of local artisan alcohol?
Here's the press release so you can feel the full force of its moral outrage:
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA (May 29, 2014) - Alcohol Justice is asking the California Legislature and Governor Brown to step away from allowing alcohol product tastings at farmers' markets in the state. California residents are encouraged to TAKE ACTION to STOP AB 2488.
"Kids, you go on a pony ride while I taste the chardonnay, is what you might hear a parent say at your local certified farmers' market if AB 2488 becomes law," stated Bruce Lee Livingston, Executive Director / CEO of Alcohol Justice. "And where we have little lambs and wine tastings, the craft brew tastings and micro-distillery tastings will surely follow."
AB 2488, authored by Assembly Member Marc Levine (D-San Rafael), came as a surprise to Alcohol Justice. "We have always had strong support from Marc before this on evidence-based, common-sense alcohol control issues," stated Michael Scippa, Public Affairs Director at Alcohol Justice. "We're very disappointed that public health and safety will be taking a back seat to wine tasting with his bill."
AB 2488 would expand the certified farmers' market permit (Type 79) to allow wine or hard cider tastings during farmers' market hours solely at the discretion of the market managers. The bill is endorsed by wine promoting groups including California Association of Winegrape Growers, California Farm Bureau Federation, Family Winemakers of California, and the Wine Institute. The bill would open a familiar door for beer and spirits producers who will then demand equal opportunity. Big Alcohol will continue it's obsession to make tastings available wherever, and whenever alcohol is sold.
Alcohol Justice researchers issue these warnings:
- Daytime tastings, with little to no monitoring, in family-friendly settings, are inappropriate and threaten public health and safety
- Beverage service training and monitoring is absent from the legislation
- The $50 fee for a license is too low to provide for proper enforcement
- Children watching parents drinking alcohol when they shop for fruit or vegetables is a practice very damaging to impressionable young minds
- Farmers' market alcohol tastings will "normalize" youth expectations and attitudes about alcohol use and only make them more accepting of underage consumption
"Farmers' markets are supposed to be about fresh air shopping directly from the healthy choice producers, not about adding another poorly regulated alcohol outlet," added Livingston. "Uncorking wine at farmers' markets lets the evil genie of alcohol harm out of the bottle for everyone. If consumers want to taste wine they can buy a bottle and try it at home."