California now allows alcohol suppliers to use more photos when promoting events like tastings.

Mike Pomranz
Updated February 21, 2019

As you’re well aware, alcohol faces certain legal restrictions that other products don’t. You don’t have to be 21 years old to buy a mango. But unless you’re in the booze industry, you might not be aware of what all of these restrictions are. For instance, California has rules governing how alcohol suppliers can promote events like tastings or winemaker dinners held at retail locations. But as of this year, that law has changed, and the results could have a visual effect on your social media feeds.

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As Rebecca Stamey-White, a partner at the San Francisco-based law firm Hinman & Carmichael, recently explained on the firm’s website, in the past, suppliers like wineries could only promote the location and other basic details of these sort of events. Furthermore, photos of the retailer’s premises were explicitly forbidden — a considerable concern in the age of Instagram. But the new law changes all that. “Now it’s explicitly permissible to advertise these events with photos, which is helpful, since every social media platform these days focuses on photos and video,” Stamey-White writes. That said, the use of video, it turns out, is still not allowed. Apparently, California is more into the ‘Gram than Snapchat. But regardless, if you follow a lot of booze brands on social media — especially ones that like to promote in California — don’t be surprised if you see more images of the inside of wine shops and other alcohol retailers moving forward.

Interestingly, Stamey-White points out that this whole thing has mostly been a California phenomenon. “No other state has been so explicit about social media advertising, tied house, and experiential events as California,” she adds. One of the issues is that enforcing these kinds of rules isn’t easy. So as it turns out, no, the government doesn’t care about your social media as much as you might think — even if it is full of cool wine events.

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