Wine Law

California is home to some of the most productive and renowned wine regions in the country, from Napa Valley and Sonoma County to the Central and North Coasts. Although the state’s wine industry continues to prosper, businesses must contend with a number of rules and regulations that govern the production, distribution, labeling and serving of wine and other alcoholic beverages. For this reason, it is crucial to have the advice and counsel of experienced attorneys with a working knowledge of applicable state and federal regulations.

Located in Santa Barbara, GM Group represents winegrowers, producers, distributors wholesalers, retailers and other wine-related businesses throughout California. Our wine and beverage law practice is broad based, ranging from real estate, planning and land use issues to an array of winery, vineyard and beverage law matters. Our legal team is well versed in the rules and regulations of the California Department of Alcoholic Beverages Control (ABC) as well as the Alcohol & Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). We are dedicated to helping clients resolve a wide range of legal issues and achieve their business objectives.

A Primer on California Wine Law

The California ABC is responsible for issuing and enforcing liquor licenses and laws. As such, this agency has authority over wine retailers such as stores, bars and restaurants as well as non-retail outfits including winegrowers, wholesalers, wine blenders, and importers, among others. Prior to applying for a license, wineries and vineyards must first have approval from the local planning department and also obtain a sales tax permit. Moreover, the TTB requires wineries to obtain a basic permit to conduct business. The TTB is tasked with establishing and enforcing labeling laws and certifying wine beverage labels.

Our legal team assists clients with preparing and filing of license and permit applications and provides advice and counsel on compliance requirements relative to the manufacture, sale, distribution and labeling of wine and wine products. Although obtaining a license is a lengthy and complicated process that requires providing extensive documentation, we leverage our solid working relationships with the ABC  to expedite the process. Our experienced attorneys also provide ongoing counsel regarding state and  federal regulations on wine production, marketing and distribution.

Real Estate Matters

There are complex issues involved in the purchase and sale of vineyards and winery properties in California. We are well versed in matters such as land conservation (the Williamson Act), land use and zoning, deed restrictions and easements, water and boundary issues, joint water system agreements, and a host of other environmental and planning issues. Our attorneys routinely negotiate and prepare, easements, water rights agreements, boundary agreements, vineyard leases, vineyard management agreements, vineyard designation license agreements and other wine industry transactions.

Comprehensive Wine Law Services

We provide clients with advice and counsel regarding a number of other related wine law matters including, but not limited to:

  • Regulatory licensing and compliance at both the state and federal level
  • Vineyard leases, grape purchase contracts, and vineyard management contracts
  • Winery and tasting room permitting issues
  • Branding, trademark and copyright issues relative to label design, advertising and websites
  • Employment law issues and independent contractor agreements
  • Licensing agreements, sale contracts, and financing
  • Insurance and risk management

Santa Barbara Wine Law Attorneys

At GM Group, we have extensive experience helping our clients navigate the complex state and federal laws governing the growing, production, distribution, sale and consumption of wine. In the event that ABC violations arise, we aggressively defend clients against actions by state and federal regulators and law enforcement authorities.

Our understanding of the complex issues related to brand identity enables us to assist clients with trademark searches and registrations. We are also well versed in the complex state and federal rules regarding the advertising, marketing and promotion of alcoholic beverages. Our legal team is committed to helping our clients achieve their business objectives and protecting their interests.

If you are looking to purchase or sell a vineyard, need assistance obtaining an ABC license, or advice on any matter related to ABC or TTB compliance, call our office today to set up a consultation or complete the contact form on our website.