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Change in Alcohol Law Sends Chills to the Cider Industry

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Published on : Oct 31, 2013

A noticed bill, known as AB 779, passed by the Legislature this year has made a few technical changes to the state’s alcohol licensing laws. The bill states that, large beer brewers, those creating more than 1.9 million gallons every year, are permitted to produce and sell cider at their own facilities without the need of obtaining a separate license.


But, cider is ordinarily considered a form of wine under both the federal and state law, and technically cider and beer makers would require separate licenses to do the business. However, the bill states it differently, thus sending a few chills through the state’s small and growing hard cider industries. 


The cider makers expressed intense outraged about learning that rules have been changed by the Legislature in the favor of another industry entering into the market. Ellen Cavalli, a co-owner of a small cider in Sebastopol named Titled Shed says that, the bill does not allow cider makers to make beer and this competitive disadvantage seems very unfair.


The giant beer companies in the industry, including Anheuser-Busch, which is one of the rapid growing segments of the alcoholic beverage industry, are sinking deeper into the market. The law could also set the cider producers to a worrisome trend, especially for at least the five majors headquartered in apple-rich Sonoma Country. 


However, most of the cider makers still believe that it is very early to decide whether the new law is a threat to their business. 


Jeffrey House, the head of Sebastopol-based California Cider Company, and maker of the Ace Cider line which is one of the largest independently owned cider-houses in the country said that, cider is the most upcoming field in the present times and everybody wants to get in including his brother. 


Until the legal inquiry was made, the cider makers were completely unaware of the bill and the new law. The bill was passed despite the fact that it was signed by the governor on the September 27th of this year and had also cleared the Assembly and Senate without any opposition.

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