Southern Comfort Zone

Your favorite Virginia spirits can now be delivered to your door. 

Photo courtesy @thecharredcask.

Tasting rooms across the Commonwealth closed last month under executive orders from Gov. Ralph S. Northam intended to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. Many craft beverage makers have turned to curbside pickup and online orders—but until recently, shipping was an option open to wineries and breweries, but not distilleries. Now, however, Virginia distilleries have been granted temporary permission to ship to the state’s residents. Your favorite spirits can be delivered to your doorstep.

The Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority (ABC) announced the measure earlier this week, allowing Virginia distilleries to ship up to six bottles of liquor or two cases of low-alcohol-beverage products per consumer per month via common carriers such as UPS and FedEx to Virginia customers. The shipping privilege will be rescinded once the governor’s executive orders are lifted. The ABC also enacted permanent delivery privileges for Virginia distilleries to state residents, meaning that distilleries can deliver orders direct to consumers by way of their employees or third party services, such as GrubHub, Chop Chop, and Uber Eats.

For the distilled spirits industry, these measures are a crucial step amid a crisis that leaves many businesses struggling to survive. 

“Extraordinary times call for extraordinary support. Enacting temporary in-state shipping privileges for local distilleries is a reasonable lifeline for our industry, which employs almost 1,500 Virginians,” says Gareth H. Moore of Virginia Distillery Co. in Lovingston and president of the Virginia Distillers Association, who has helped to spearhead both measures. “This new form of market access will provide industry members both small and large with a mechanism to get product to consumers, easing distillers’ angst for how they will pay wages and sustain business in light of market access restrictions,” Moore says.

Virginia currently has more than 45 distilleries with ABC distillery store agreements that qualify under these two measures. “Virginia distilleries contribute to the economic vitality of the Commonwealth, and it’s important that they have some flexibility in how they are able to provide their products to consumers while their tasting rooms are closed,” says Travis Hill, chief executive officer with ABC. “The Virginia Distillers Association is a key partner in working with our distillery store agents to craft responsible policy solutions to address the unprecedented circumstances of this crisis. This temporary addendum to distillery store agreements is one example of many since this crisis where we have provided our licensees with relief from regulatory challenges in areas where we have the authority to do so,” Hill says.

For the distillers, the new measures are key to their survival, and they are ready to get started. “We certainly appreciate all of the extra privileges that ABC has given us during this challenging business environment,” says Mark Rangos of Blue Sky Distillery in Carrollton. “We are offering both shipping and delivery services to customers.”

Cheryl Wasmund Targos of Williamsburg’s Copper Fox Distillery says that she appreciates the ABC’s step. “Our ability to deliver products directly to customers has been well received, and the additional flexibility to be able to ship directly to consumers is a privilege that is also very much appreciated,” she says. “Our website has been updated with curbside and home delivery options, and we hope to have online shipping updates by early next week.”

Targos adds that her business will adapt in accordance with guidelines from global and local authorities. “First, we wish for the health and safety of all,” she says.  

Click here for information on Virginia Distillers Association members, plus recipes for craft cocktails. Click here for a list of distillers open for pickup.

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