Starting Sept. 1, vendors will be able to offer beer and wine samples at the West Seattle Farmers Market, the Magnolia Farmers Market, and Pike Place's on-street farmers market. The pilot runs through Nov. 1, 2012, with the liquor control board scheduled to report back to the Legislature the following month.
According to Hurt, the program will allow vintners and brewers to sell more expensive products that shoppers are reluctant to purchase without sampling first. "This will enable them to bring nicer stuff," says Hurt.
The program's rules allow sampling by only one brewery, microbrewery, or winery per day. Samples must be two ounces or less, and customers are restricted to four ounces of free booze. "I think it will work exactly the way it has at grocery stores," Hurt says. "We don't anticipate any problems."
Currently, Rockridge Orchards sells its hard ciders and berry wines at the West Seattle Farmers Market and Klickitat Canyon Winery sells its wines at the Magnolia Farmers Market. Hurt suspects the alliance will receive additional applications from vendors interested in taking advantage of the new program. "One of the reasons we're excited is that, for small local vintners, it's hard for them to consider selling in a farmers market because people don't know what [their wine] is," Hurt says.
The markets were selected from a group of 40 markets which responded to the liquor control board's invitation -- sent to 59 qualifying markets statewide -- to participate. The markets were divided by geographic region, with a proportionate number of markets from each region randomly selected. Other markets set to participate in the pilot program include Vashon, Everett, and the Proctor Farmers Market in Tacoma.