With everyone out there tweeting away, when you are a producer of alcoholic beverages it’s important to know the laws around, regarding what you can and what you cannot say. Just knowing the laws is difficult, as there are so many – especially surrounding alcohol, but not realizing that you are breaking the laws can have dire consequences for wineries, breweries, distilleries, etc.
I was reading in the Wine Industry Advisor Afternoon Brief today about the wineries in the Sacramento, CA area that tweeted information about wine tasting event in Northern California called the Grape Escape. SaveMart sponsored the event. By tweeting the name of this retailer the wineries and breweries were breaking the tied-house laws, laws that don’t allow alcohol producers to promote retailers. The eight wineries and breweries who tweeted the information could have been subject to a license suspension or a fine. While the California Alcohol Beverage Control send letters threatening 10-day suspensions, they opted to allow businesses to admit to wrongdoing and put them on probation for a year – which means that any future violations would cause the 10-day suspension to go into effect.
Rules and regulations concerning the marketing and advertising of alcoholic beverages are available through the TTB and your state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control. Anyone who handles marketing, advertising or social media should be aware of the rules regarding what you can and cannot say in ads, tweets, on Facebook, emails and on your website, etc.
The other thing to remember is that new laws are coming out all the time, and, as we all know, “ignorantia legis neminem excusat,” which is Latin for “ignorance of the law does not excuse.” While that may not apply all the time, you don’t want to spend your hard earned money to fight that.