Local grocers may soon offer wine, beer tastings

By Ryan Wynne

Eight grocery stores in the county may soon offer wine and beer tastings.

The grocers applied for and are now waiting for approval of a new license that would allow them to hold in-store tastings. The new license became available June 10, after an apparently successful 2008 pilot program that ended Sept. 30, 2009.

Applicants include all Whatcom County Haggen Food & Pharmacy stores, both Bellingham Community Food Co-op stores and Trader Joe’s.

Vic Hubbard, wine department manager at the downtown Co-op, said details of tastings haven’t been discussed yet, but that they hope to offer both beer and wine tastings in the store.

“I’m sure our customers would appreciate the chance to try wines before they buy,” Hubbard said. “That’s what it’s all about.”

Hubbard said they are just waiting for approval before determining when and how much tastings will be.

For a grocery store to be eligible for the license, it must have grocery sales that account for more than 50 percent of gross sales and have a store that’s at least 9,000 square feet. Samples can be, at most, two ounces and customers will be limited to a total of four ounces per visit.

For a full list of requirements and regulations visit the Washington State Liquor Control Board’s website at and click on “2010 Alcohol and Tobacco Related Legislation.”

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