The TTB Suspends Pending Wine Growler Rulemaking

The TTB Suspends Pending Wine Growler Rulemaking.

Good news for Oregon licensees selling wine growlers.  The TTB has suspended its pending TTB Ruling 2014-3 entitled “Bottling Taxpaid Wine in Growlers or Similar Containers for Consumption Off of the Premises.”

In short, the ruling held that the filling of growlers with taxpaid wine for consumption off of the premises (in plain English, “to go”) was a bottling activity subject to the taxpaid wine bottling house provisions of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.

Thus, the ruling held that businesses filling wine growlers were required to meet a number of requirements:

  1. Apply for approval as taxpaid wine bottling houses,
  2. Label their growlers,
  3. Keep certain records, and
  4. Comply with other regulations regarding their operations.

The end result would be mountains of extra paperwork for licensees and the TTB with virtually no public safety or protection of revenue benefit.  For more information, see my earlier post on the subject.

The TTB was likely inundated with negative feedback from industry members across the country, but particularly Oregon, including from U.S. Senator Ron Wyden.  As a result, the TTB backed away from the ruling, but tried to save face at the same time by stating that “our existing regulations were intended to cover traditional taxpaid wine bottling activities, rather than the filling of wine growlers.”  Agreed.

As a result, the TTB will now engage in formal rulemaking on this issue to “modernize” their regulations on wine growlers.  This will allow the TTB to balance protecting revenue (which was never at stake since the vast majority of wine growlers are being filled by retailers using taxpaid wine) without unduly burdening businesses that want to sell wine growlers (as with beer growlers, just get out of the way).  The rulemaking process will enable all interested parties to provide input.  Expect plenty of input.

Fearless prediction–the TTB’s rulemaking will clear the way for wine growlers across the country.  Wine growlers–great wine with less environmental impact and for less $$$’s.  Everyone wins.