Holly Raschein bill also lets service dogs into tastings.
By Jacob Ogles
A change in law letting distilleries bottle drinks in a wider variety of sizes has cleared its first
hurdle in the Florida House. Rep. Holly Raschein, a Key West Republican, stressed the
legislation aims to let more Florida-based distilleries take advantage of market needs.
The bill (HB 1165) does this by repealing statutes related to wine and cider container
size limitations and by specifying restaurant patrons may take home a partially consumed
bottle of wine with the purchase of a meal. The legislation passed in the House Business
and Professions Subcommittee, where it was one of multiple pieces of legislation aimed at
lifting restrictions on alcohol businesses. Should the legislation become law, distillers could
blend bottled spirits together. It would also increase the maximum production threshold for
craft distilleries from 75,000 to 250,000 gallons and allow up to 75,000 gallons to be sold
straight from a company’s own gift shop.
It also authorizes the issuance of up to three vendor’s licenses for the sale of alcoholic beverages on a distillery’s premises. Moreover, it lets distilleries hold tastings and tours anywhere liquor can legally be sold.
Rep. Wengay Newton, a St. Petersburg Democrat, questioned whether the
legislation would end up letting distilleries go around existing rules on distribution.
Raschein stressed that was not the intention of the bill.
Another important part of the bill allows dogs to move around distilleries, something
that gained the attention of Subcommittee Chair Heather Fitzenhagen. The Fort
Myers Republican wanted clarity on how that would impact food and beverage health protections.
Raschein noted the legislation would change the law that now forbids dogs from
being on the premises for distilleries, there still would be restrictions on where
canines could go. The bill would let service animals be accommodated but still won’t let
animals on counters where food gets served or prepared and prohibits animals
from having any contact with any items that come in contact with food. Dog
waste must be cleaned up immediately, and areas must be kept sanitized in line
with health regulations. Rep. Matt Willhite, a Palm Beach Democrat, supported the legislation but did
ask that regulations involving craft alcohol industries be looked at more “holistically.”