Going Green: Wine on Tap

A couple of months ago, I attended a “Wine Law Forum” put on by the CEB in Yountville, just north of Napa. It was a great day and a half, with seminars on a wide range of timely topics, from buying a winery, to pouring wines in alternative locations, to water regulation issues, to the legalization of recreational marijuana, which could be coming to California in the near future. One seminar that I found particularly interesting concerned alternative types of wine packaging. Specific alternatives discussed? Refillable growlers (which I’ll address in a later post), and wine on tap. Wine on tap? That’s right – wine on tap – straight out of a stainless steel keg. Talk about alternative! Granted, it’s not hard to be “alternative” in an industry where bottle and cork are steeped in tradition, and constitute what many consider to be an integral part of the wine experience. Nevertheless, by the end of the seminar, I was convinced that wine on tap is an inevitable and exciting development in wine packaging. As consumers become more and more insistent on sustainable practices, and producers more and more concerned about efficiency, cost, and increasing competition, wine on tap has something for everyone. Stainless steel kegs are impermeable to oxidation and can keep wine fresh for up to…

TTB Font and Sizing Label Requirements

A major hurdle that most wine producers hit is the dreaded label design. Although information about TTB requirements is readily available, it can sometimes feel like the regulations are written in a foreign language. Certain TTB terms and font sizing requirements can be tricky. This article is intended to take some mystery out of this aspect of label design for American wines. Of course, exceptions apply, and this article should be read as a foundation of knowledge, and not as specific legal advice for your individual label design. For assistance with your label’s compliance, or to discuss your label’s design, contact us. All wine labels must include the wine’s brand name, class, name and address of the bottler or packer, net contents, FTC yellow dye #5 (if applicable), color additives (if applicable), sulfites declaration (if applicable), alcohol content statement, and the government warning statement. While all of these categories have their own special substantive requirements, font size and spacing requirements also exist. BRAND, CLASS, NAME and ADDRESS, NET CONTENTS, DYES, ADDITIVES, and SULFITES: For wine containers up to 187 ml (splits), the brand, class, name and address, net contents (as opposed to alcohol content), FTC yellow dye, and sulfites declaration must be, “in script, type, or printing not smaller than 1 millimeter, unless contained among…

Beware the Use of “Volunteers” at your Winery

Over the past few months, as I’ve been mulling over topics for this wine law blog, several people have expressed their surprise at the news that a Bay Area winery was recently cited and fined for labor violations involving over 20 unpaid volunteers. The Department of Industrial Relations investigated when one of the workers was injured and, unsurprisingly, was not covered by workers’ compensation insurance. The fines assessed were so prohibitive – roughly $115,000 – that the winery was forced to shut its doors. It has come as a shock to many in the wine industry that the use of volunteers not only violates California labor laws, but can have such devastating consequences. The Bay Area case is a wake-up call. For those in the industry who have used volunteers in the past, you should re-think that practice. If you are a for-profit business (there are exceptions for non-profits, religious, and charitable organizations), you may not use unpaid volunteers without running afoul of California labor laws. California law defines the term “employ” very broadly to include “to suffer or permit to work.” Your volunteers may not be suffering, but they are performing work for you, and so are technically considered employees entitled to minimum wage, meal and rest breaks, and overtime pay. You as their employer are required to…