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Family Winemakers of California was formed in response to a need for the small wine producers voice to be heard in public policy decisions. The association is structured on a one-winery, one-vote basis to ensure that all viewpoints are considered in policy positions.

Our Mission
Family Winemakers of California advocates the rights and interests of its members to freely produce, market and sell their products, and is dedicated to preserving the diversity of California wine.

In fulfilling its mission, the association has sponsored legislation in the past 12 years to expand the ability of wineries, particularly small producers, to compete in the marketplace. Additionally, FWC has taken a leadership role in pushing and funding the litigation strategy to open up domestic markets for direct-to-consumer wine sales. That investment resulted in the 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned discriminatory laws in Michigan and New York.  FWC recently prevailed in the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal in its case against Massachusetts's discriminatory production cap law.

Litigation Activity

  • Defeated Massachusetts's discriminatory production cap law at the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal.
  • Funded moot court preparation for attorneys in the Arizona direct shipping appeal at the 9th Circuit.
  • Filed an amicus brief in the Indiana case appeal in 2007 to preserve a lower court decision that declared face-to-face transactions unconstitutional in direct shipping.
  • Supported and funded the U.S. Supreme Court case to allow direct-to-consumer wine shipments by wineries.
  • Helped fund the merits brief on the combined Michigan & New York case
  • Helped fund Stanford University Law School Dean Kathleen Sullivan as counsel for the oral argument
  • Helped fund Pepperdine University Law School Dean Ken Starr’s involvement on overall strategy and drafting of circuit court of appeal briefs
  • Helped fund the national industry amicus brief on impact to wineries
  • Organized the regional associations amicus brief on the history of the 21st Amendment
  • Helped fund numerous moot court sessions for circuit court appeals and the Supreme Court argument
  • Filed amicus briefs on behalf of Family Winemakers of California and small producers in Indiana, Florida, North Carolina, New York, Virginia and Texas.
  • Helped fund intervener briefs in a case challenging California’s Pierce’s Disease Control Program
  • Helped fund a broad industry effort to prevent the listing of the California Tiger Salamander as endangered.
  • In 2006, Family Winemakers sued Massachusetts over new legislation that discriminates among wineries by size and limits who can apply for a direct shipping permit.

Legislative Activity

  • Sponsored AB 1642 (Chesbro), which allows winegrape growers to vote on extending the Pierce's Disease Program for another five years.
  • Sponsored AB 2488 (Levine), which allows wineries to pour tastes at farmers' markets.
  • Supported AB 1116 (Hall), which extends and expands the private event sales permit.
  • Sponsored SB 2 (Wiggins), which allows winegrape growers to vote on extending the Pierce's Disease Program for another five years.
  • Sponsored SB 157 (Wiggins), which created a uniform and expanded list of non profits that can hold wine tastings where wine can be donated and poured, and orders taken.
  • Supported AB 2004 (Evans), which expanded licensed wineries privileges to on-sale consumption.
  • Supported AB 1964 (Evans), which allows for early deliveries of wine to non-profits with pending event permits.
  • Supported AB 2293 (de Leon), which allows wineries to hold private, invitation-only brand promotion events.
  • Sponsored SB 108 (Wiggins), which expanded the number of non-profit wine tasting events where orders can be taken.
  • Supoorted AB 323 (Evans) in 2007 to allow custom crush producers to donate and pour wine at nonprofit tasting events.
  • Supported nondiscriminatory direct shipping in Florida in 2006 & 2007; advocacy kept state open to shipping without production cap.
  • Supported SB 1380 (Chesbro) to protect Sonoma wine labels.
  • Sponsored SB 118 (Chesbro) to convert California's reciprocal wine shipping law to a permit system that will broaden consumer choice in domestically produced wine.
  • Cosponsored SB 1650 (Chesbro) to allow winegrape growers to vote on extending the industry assessment that supports Pierce’s disease research
  • Sponsored SB 88 (Chesbro) to allow wineries to sell bottled wine at qualifying non-profit events
  • Sponsored AB 1505 (Wiggins) to allow wineries to take orders at wine tastings for later delivery
  • Cosponsored AB 1394 (Wiggins) to form the California Pierce’s Disease Control Program
  • Sponsored AB 2520 (Thomson) to allow wineries to sell bottled wine at certified farmers’ markets

Family Winemakers also assists its members in marketing their wines by organizing wine tastings each year.  One is in Southern California market for consumers and the wine trade (San Diego or Los Angeles area). The other is our Bay Area tasting that just completed its 23rd year. The San Mateo event is a one-day event in which consumers join the trade. The tastings allow small producers to cost effectively reach the wine buying trade.

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