In a just-published Circular Letter (16-02), the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) announced that wineries, farm wineries and breweries may now use areas approved for retail sales and tastings for holding third-party events, including weddings, private parties and charitable events. Virginia ABC historically has not permitted wineries, farm wineries or breweries to use such areas for events conducted by third parties at which alcoholic beverages would be served and consumed. Wineries and breweries had to create separate event spaces for weddings, private parties and charitable events.

The use of the retail and or tasting area for third-party events is conditioned upon:

  1. No retail sales or tastings conducted by the winery or brewery may go on during the events;
  2. The retail sales area or tasting room must be closed to the public; and
  3. Virginia ABC must receive prior written notification five (5) days before the event.

This change in policy will no doubt benefit smaller wineries and breweries that have yet to invest in special, separate event space; and it may benefit existing wineries with event space by expanding their options for third-party venues.