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Vintners enjoy smoother process

Retail: Santa Clarita-based winemakers say new state law makes Internet sales easier and more practi

Posted: January 18, 2012 1:30 a.m.
Updated: January 18, 2012 1:30 a.m.

Nancy and Russ Riley, joined by their dog Gucci, enjoy a bottle of their wine under their backyard grape arbor at their home in Castaic.

 


A new state law making it easier for California winemakers to sell their wine online is making things easier for Santa Clarita-based Nuggucciet Cellars, according to the owners.

Taking effect Jan. 1, a new Type 85 license now allows vintners, such as Russ and Nancy Briley, to sell their Pinot Noir directly via the Internet without having to make a wholesale wine sale every 45 days.

When the owners of Nuggucciet Cellars first set up for business to sell their wine via the Internet in 2011, the couple found themselves tangled — not in vines, but in a complex series of licensing, the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, state and county regulations.

The new Type 85 license has far fewer restrictions, and an Internet retailer no longer needs to post a sign for 30 days.

Under the old system, which required a Type 17 and Type 20 license, the couple was allowed to sell wine wholesale or online. The Type 20 license does not allow the wine to actually be on the premises where the wine is being sold.

So in a maze of laws and regulations that hadn’t quite yet caught up with the Internet age, the winemaker was required to post an alcohol-sales permit for 30 days on the face of the industrial building where his office is located.

There was no alcohol anywhere near the office in the Valencia Industrial Center, Russ Briley said. But still the sign had to be posted for the entire month, confusing those who worked in the area.

Nuggucciet Cellar’s wine is stored at a professional, temperature-controlled facility in Oxnard, and the Brileys have a business office in the industrial complex.

“It would have been so much easier to set up, if this law had been in place before,” Briley said. “I wouldn’t have had to post a sign. People wouldn’t have been coming up to see it.”

And the Type 85 license is less expensive, he said.

Still, Nuggucciet Cellar will need to start filling out the exact same paperwork all over again, Briley said.

“But I was told it’ll probably get pushed through pretty quickly because I’m already approved,” he said.

Before the Brileys switch over to the new license, however, they have to wait and see where they buy their next load of grapes from.

“I was thinking of bringing some in from Oregon,” Briley said. “If I do that, I have to get Type 9 license — an importers permit — first.”

Once the grapes are brought in from Oregon and the couple makes their next boutique wine in California, they can then
convert to the new license for Internet sales.

The last grapes were for the company’s 2009 Pinot Noir came from a four-acre area in the Riverbench Vineyard called
The Mesa, so an importer’s license was not needed.

“We’ll probably convert to the Type 85 license,” Briley said.

But in the maze of licensing, laws, codes and regulations, even though the Nuggucciet Cellar wine is stored at a temperature-controlled facility in Oxnard, the Briley’s will still need to operate their Internet business from a business office.

Los Angeles County had put a new law into effect allowing for the sale of anything over the Internet out of one’s home, but wine or alcohol.

For more information on Nuggucciet Cellars visit online at nugguccietcellars.com.

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