Legislation passed today by the Senate would increase the ability of regional organizations to host events that promote local wineries and draw tourists to a wide variety of local businesses.

“Groups like the Olympic Peninsula Winery Association must pay numerous redundant and exorbitant fees to host a single event, complicating their important efforts to showcase our terrific local wineries,” said Sen. Kevin Van De Wege (D-Sequim). “This bill creates a single license that eliminates duplicative fees and excess administration.”

The special occasion license currently required for each winery participating in a local event — at a cost of $60 per event, per day, per winery — can cost a winery association more than $2,400 in total licensing fees for a single event. Senate Bill 6392 would allow local wine industry associations to purchase a single, $700 license that will cover up to 12 events in a year — a considerable savings that should increase the ability of the state’s regional wine associations to host events that promote local wines and wineries.

“These changes would allow events like our upcoming Red, White and Chocolate Weekend to be even more successful, which is especially important to our wineries who need the sales and attention the most,” said Amy Harksell, executive director of the Olympic Peninsula Winery Association. “In addition, over 54% of attendees at our events last year were from out of the area, boosting our local restaurants, hotels and other industries reliant on tourist dollars to stay open.”

Don Corson of Camaraderie Cellars in Port Angeles underscored the need for the streamlined license.

“This outdated law simply had to be changed, not to just be fairer for our organization but to over 1,000 wineries across the state,” Corson said. “Sen. Van De Wege’s leadership on both sides of the Cascades and both sides of the aisle was welcomed and respected, and an excellent example of good government at work.”

Having passed unanimously, SB 6392 now goes to the House for consideration.