A House committee will vote Monday on a bill that would allow wine consumers to buy their favorite varietals in reusable growlers at their local grocer or wine shop. CFM's Dan Jarman is leading the charge on behalf of the Oregon Winegrowers Association.
The Oregonian quoted Jarman as saying House Bill 2443 "puts [the Oregon wine industry] at the leading edge of sustainability." Oregon also would be the first state to allow wine growler sales at groceries and restaurants.
Growlers are legal in Oregon for beer and have grown sharply in popularity, especially with consumers who want to haul away a half-gallon of a small-batch microbrew or seasonal ale from brewpubs and, more recently, mini-bars in higher-end grocery stores such as New Seasons.
Wineries can sell wine in growlers at their own tasting rooms, but HB 2443 would allow the practice in retail shops with an appropriate liquor license. Many Oregon wineries already provide restaurants with growlers for them to use when serving diners who order wine by the glass.
Jarman says use of growlers can save money and is environmentally friendly. Some winemakers also say it makes Oregon wine seem less the drink of choice of the "effete." Many Oregon wine consumers buy their favorite wine in bottles and save it for special occasions, but Harry Peterson-Nedry, owner of Chehalem Winery, told lawmakers wine growlers are meant for consumption at tonight's dinner or a weekend party.
No one is apparently quite sure where the term "growler" came from, but its use has persisted. However, Rep. Shemia Fagan, D-Clackamas, suggested the more French-sounding "growlier" as an alternative for wine.
After Monday's hearing, HB 2443 would go to the House floor where passage is expected, then on to the Senate. It could be one of the earliest bills to pass the 2013 session of the legislature.