Image from Revel Photo Co.
Let’s face it, a crisis often calls for cocktails. And with everyone grounded safely at home, many of us enjoy drinking responsibly at the end of a long day of social distancing. But what happens when you run out of your favorite wine or spirits and don’t want to risk going out to the store?
Thankfully, the Virginia ABC has recognized a need to help support the many distilleries, wineries, breweries and restaurants across the commonwealth and the customers who love their products. Regulations have been relaxed in lieu of COVID-19 to give these small businesses more privileges, meaning it’s now easier for quarantined consumers to access Virginia’s craft beer, wine and spirits without visiting an ABC retail location or grocery store.
Because we know you prefer to only be mixing up drinks, not a slew ever-changing guidelines, we’ve broken down the new policies below.
Spirits Can Be Shipped
The latest addendum as of April 6 allows distilleries to temporarily ship their products to consumers. The Virginia ABC has stated it recognizes that the COVID-19 pandemic is negatively impacting many of these businesses that have had to close their tasting rooms due to Gov. Northam’s Executive Order 53 and are still working to maintain operations.
“Virginia ABC has been an outstanding partner in supporting Virginia’s home team distilleries by expediting these privileges, which were no small fete,” says Gareth H. Moore, CEO of Virginia Distillery Co. in Lovingston and president of the Virginia Distillers Association.
For as long as the tasting room closure orders continue, and ABC stores remain on the list of essential businesses, local distilleries will be able to:
- Conduct e-commerce and ship up to six bottles of liquor (no larger than 1.75 liters) and two cases of low-alcohol-beverage products per consumer per month via common carriers such as UPS and Fed Ex. Distillers must ensure the recipient is at least 21—a signature is required.
“Obviously every new way of getting our spirits in customers’ hands is a plus during this mess, but for us, being a rather small distillery with more localized representation in the ABC stores, this now makes it possible for customers to purchase our products all over the state,” says Ian Glomski, the founder and distiller at Vitae Spirits in Charlottesville. “On top of that we have quite a few super small-batch spirits that we only sell directly from the distillery, but with shipping, we can now make sure the aficionados that can’t visit Charlottesville easily are well supplied.”
Curbside Pick-ups Encouraged
On March 12, along with the declaration of EO 51 and the Virginia State of Emergency, the ABC modified several regulations for the duration of the order, including changes to curbside pick-up regulations. New options include:
- Restaurants are allowed to sell beer and wine in sealed containers for curbside pick-up in designated areas like a parking lot.
- Breweries, farm wineries and wineries can sell products for curbside pickup in a designated area.
- Distilleries can deliver products to customers seated in their vehicle on the premises or in the parking lot of the distillery.
Expanded Delivery Service
If you prefer to avoid leaving your home all-together, other March 12 adjustments include:
- Restaurants, breweries and wineries can all deliver wine to consumers’ homes without a delivery permit.
- Third-party services (Grubhub, Uber Eats, etc.) can deliver wine or beer to homes on behalf of ABC-licensed businesses.
Many of Virginia’s distilleries, wineries, breweries and restaurants are taking full advantage of these new (and improved, in our opinion) rules. Orders can be made by phone, online or through the business’ apps or social media accounts.
Be sure to look out for free or reduced deals on shipping and delivery charges, and don’t forget to plan ahead so you will be ready to say cheers at your next virtual happy hour.