Farmers Markets to Serve Beer & Wine, If Seattle Senator Gets Her Way"/>
Compared to other states, Washington is incredibly anal-retentive when it comes to the service of alcohol. Our booze-delivery system is publicly controlled, with the hard stuff sold at separate, state-run stores and cordoned-off beer gardens permeating all-ages events like Bumbershoot and concerts at the Gorge or White River. Worse yet, pro-privatization forces couldn't settle on one citizens' initiative to send to voters this past fall, so Washingtonians ended up shooting down a pair of competing plans--a perilous verdict for a movement that now must rely on a tepid governor to resuscitate the issue in Olympia.
Yet even as it's drawn a hard public line, the state has, in recent years, quietly relaxed certain requirements for private establishments to serve higher-octane hooch. The only downside to this movement, where pretty much any place willing to stock a mini-fridge with overpriced Swanson dinners can serve 151, has been the semi-corollary demise of beer-and-wine-only neighborhood taverns like the Buckaroo and Chuck & Sally's. The upside? A more laid-back (and therefore mature) attitude toward drinking in general, which, if Seattle Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles gets her way, will extend to farmers markets in the near future.
Kohl-Welles is sponsoring SB 5029, which would establish a pilot program for serving beer and wine samples at area farmers markets. The legislation is modeled on a law that now permits sampling in area grocery stores.
Hopefully the state legislature will see the considerable wisdom in Kohl-Welles' effort and usher the bill through faster than Bluto could shotgun a Schlitz. Lushiness aside, wine and beer are major products of agriculture in Washington, and every bit as deserving of a spot at the markets as apples and onions.