Do I really need to file for label approval? I know other breweries who don’t….

Boston Beer cited for labelling violations by NY State Liquor Authority. And the fines were close to $1 million. Be sure you don’t make the same mistake.

Basic rules at issue. All alcoholic beverages sold in New York must be label registered with the State Liquor Authority except wines that have a COLA from the TTB. Each and every year. Each and every different SKU. Also, if you work with a distributor, you must give written notice of who is your brand representative is in New York.

Label registration can be done by the brewery/winery/distillery itself, but label registration is often handled by the whole distributor as part of its services. However, if the distributor fails to do it, the brewery itself is left holding the bag as it is ultimately responsible. In this case, the brewery was notified that the distributor had only registered a single product and was out of compliance on all other products being sold in the state. Although the brewery promised to correct the situation, that never happened. Result? $975,000 fine.

At a recent SLA Full Board meeting, a small Long Island winery faced fines over $100,000 for failing to price post its products. They appealed the fine and asked for a reduction because it was out of line with their size and overall earnings. The SLA unanimously declined. They wanted to send a message to the industry that non-compliance is a serious matter.

It may take a while to get caught, but when it catches up to you, be prepared. These details are a mountain of paperwork and one more thing on a craft beverage business owner’s to-do list. I get it. But it must get done. Find time to do it. Delegate it. Hire an outside service to do this for you (like our firm). Just get it done. The failure to do it can be an expensive mistake and even result in revocation of your license altogether.

If you do find yourself at the wrong end of an SLA investigation or Notice of Pleading, contact our team for legal representation.