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Compliance Corner - Bottling Tasting Samples
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5/1/2020 at 8:09:12 PM GMT
Posts: 22
Compliance Corner - Bottling Tasting Samples

The Compliance Corner
By Mary Beth Williams

Many of you have asked about the requirements for sending small format bottles to customers for a virtual wine tastings that are happening now.   WineAmerica put the following federal guidance out, and the VA ABC guidance follows that.

TTB Requirements
Distribution of wine for tasting samples based on the requirements below will be treated as a normal taxable removal from the winery premises, subject to all applicable conditions of the Federal Alcohol Administration Act (FAA Act), the Alcoholic Beverage Labeling Act (ABLA), and the Internal Revenue Code (IRC). Wineries adhering to the following requirements would not need any waivers from current requirements.

•    Samples must be provided in an approved standard of fill (50 mL which equals 1.7 fl. oz. or 100mL which equals 3.4 fl. oz.).
•    Wine tasting containers must be properly labeled.
•    If the tasting is of an existing wine that already has an approved COLA, the winery may change the net contents statement as an allowable revision.
•    Assuming the wine samples are 100% domestic wine, the labels must include the following:
   •    Brand name
   •    Class and type designation
   •    Appellation of origin (if required)
   •    Alcohol content (or the designation “table wine,” if applicable)
   •    Bottler’s name and address statement
   •    Government health warning statement
   •    Net contents
   •    Sulfite declaration
   •    If any changes are made that would require a new COLA, or the winery wishes to send tastings of a new wine, the winery must apply for a new COLA.
•    Please note that the minimum type size for all these elements on a container of 187mL or less is 1mm. More information on formatting and other requirements for each element of the mandatory information is available on TTB’s wine labeling guidance page.
•    Shipments of these containers must be treated the same as other types of removals from bond – for example, the wine must be tax-determined, and wineries must maintain the required removal from bond records.
•    Wineries must ensure that any shipments are in compliance with the laws of their States and the State(s) of their customers. See below.

VA ABC Requirements

•    If you already have a COLA that will cover the product, you do not need to get a new product registration for the smaller bottle
o    On your monthly report, you will simply add a second line for the product, showing a 50ml volume (or whatever the volume is), and tally the smaller bottles as normal on your monthly purchase order.
•    If you need to get a new COLA for the smaller format, you’ll need to get a new ABC product registration as well.
o    That product will get a new ABC product code, and will be reported on your monthly purchase order as a separate product with a separate code.  Make sure you use the correct volume notation on the purchase order so that you are paying the correct tax.

Tips and Tricks

•    Remember that if you’re just removing information from a label (to make it smaller), you don’t need a new COLA.
•    The “glass of wine to go” allowed during COVID under ABC laws is just a glass, and therefore doesn’t require a COLA or the labeling requirements described above.  The closure parameters, etc, described in previous Compliance Corners all have to be met, but remember, these “to go” items are only allowed for pick up or delivery, not shipping.  

Mary Beth Williams is the President of Williams Compliance and Consulting Group, LLC, a compliance services and legal consulting provider based in Hanover County, Virginia.  For more information, contact Mary Beth at or (804) 445-2924.

2711 Buford Road #174
Bon Air, VA 23235