Have you ever seen one of these ABC posting signs while driving around? Chances are you have if you live in an area that has a lot of wineries. You may have seen them posted in any number of locations: in front of your neighbor’s house, in a storefront window or out in front of a winery. Perhaps you wondered, “what’s the deal?”.

The deal is that this posting (30 days minimum) is a required part of the process when filing an application for most ABC licenses. The ABC I am referring to here in this case is the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. (http://www.abc.ca.gov)

This example in the photo here is from a recent client that is applying to become a wholesaler license holder for beer & wine. The address on their license in this case is their home address, since that is where the business will initially be located.This wholesaler license type in California (what in the industry is commonly referred to as the 17/20) is generally what a custom crush client at a winery will hold. What this means is that they contract with the winery to make their wine for them and then take the finished bottled product and go sell it themselves as a wholesaler. Just to give you and idea of the numbers we’re talking about there are currently roughly 1,000 of this type of license holder in Napa County.

The ABC requires posting of these public notices as they inform the surrounding neighbors that an application is in process related to the sale of alcohol. The neighbors can then contact the property owner directly to inquire about what type of ABC license they are applying for if they have any concerns.

It used to be that these ABC posting signs were only seen in front of wineries being built or already in existence. In the past decade that has changed. Now you’ll spot them just as often in storefront windows and at the end of your neighbor’s driveway.

This surge is just a sign of the changing dynamics in the wine industry. For one, the growth in the custom crush client scenario I described above. These numbers continue to grow as most young wine businesses start out this way.

The other newer category for ABC license holders has been what is called a duplicate winegrower. (also known as an 02) These would be the applications with the signs in storefront windows in commercial areas of town. These days those locations are predominantly tasting rooms which pour wines from multiple wineries. If the winery desires to have their wine poured and sold there they would need to file an application with their ABC office for a duplicate 02. The 02 or winegrower’s license is what any winery will originally file for with the ABC to begin their winery.

So now the next time you are driving around town or just on your way through your local neighborhood and see one of these posting signs on display you’ll know, they have an application in to begin some type of alcohol (probably wine) related business.

By the way, for you inquiring minds out there, you can also do your own research on license holders via a license query system available on the ABC’s site: http://www.abc.ca.gov/datport/LQSMenu.html

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