Liquor store ‘tastings’ on their way to Vail
Jonathan Staufer is anxious to give his customers a better taste of Vail.Staufer, owner of Grappa Fine Wines on Meadow Drive, and other town liquor store owners will be able to host in-store “tastings” early next month, when a new town law is likely to take effect. The law lets Vail liquor stores take advantage of a new state policy that allows small amounts of alcoholic beverages to be served in stores. Those stores had been prohibited from allowing drinking.”Once it gets worked out, it’s going to be a good thing for the wine business in Colorado and Vail in particular,” Staufer said.Because of the state’s strong tourist business, restaurants and stores often introduce customers to new wines, Staufer said. “It’s one of the things we do, and do really well,” Staufer said. The new law, part of a larger state statute that tightens alcohol levels for drunk-driving offenses, sets strict limits on how stores can host tastings (see box). The law, which towns the length of the valley are adjusting their liquor codes for, also allows restaurants to “re-cork” unfinished bottles of wine. “The restrictions are manageable, though,” Staufer said. “We’re not throwing a party, and we don’t want to.”While Staufer said Grappa will probably use the new law to focus on wines, stores can offer samples of beer and liquor. Tom Mullen, owner of West Vail Liquor Mart, said though his store will host tastings, he doesn’t expect a long-term boost.”I think you’ll see a big splash at first, then it will settle down,” Mullen said. “It’s really a very minor change.
The state’s new wine tasting law isn’t an excuse to party, coming with several restrictions. Among them are: Stores must use their own employees to serve at tastings. No one from a wholesaler or distributor can pour a drop. Beverages to be tasted must come from stores’ stock. Wholesalers and distributors cannot provide beverages.