Southern California Distillers Association

Southern California Distillers Association

Have you ever heard that saying you’re playing with the big boys now? Its meaning is basically that you need to step up your game if you want to compete, that you’re in a little over your head. This is how many small craft Distilled Spirit Plants can feel. They’re the underdogs of the alcoholic beverage world if you will. It almost feels as if it is impossible for them to compete with much larger plants with more established names. And that is where the Southern California Distillers Association comes in.

The SCDA promotes advocacy for those emerging and smaller distilleries and businesses. They aim to promote awareness for these underdogs, as well as foster relationships with the local hospitality, retail, and customer community.

Ready to learn more? Keep reading!

SCDA Missions & Goals

So, we touched briefly on what the SCDA is all about. We know that they are a regional advocacy group that works on behalf of the ‘little man.’ But what do they actually hope to achieve? Let’s take a closer look.

  • Develop A Community – The SCDA aims to create a distiller’s community in the ten countries of Southern California in which members help one another.
  • Protect & Promote – Protect smaller distillers by promoting the craft of small-batch spirit making.
  • Customer Awareness – Make customers aware of up-and-coming spirit brands.
  • Grow The Industry – Ensure the long-term success of the industry in the south land.
  • Legislation – Change outdated legislation that impedes the craft as well as support new innovative legislation that will promote smaller/new businesses.
  • Support Where Needed – From industry suppliers to wholesalers, to restaurants and bars, SCDA plans to give additional support where needed to ensure a growing economy.

Membership Perks

Now that we know exactly what the SCDA does, you probably already have an idea about whether being a member would be beneficial or not to you. To help finalize your decision, let’s take a closer look at some of the membership perks you can expect to see.

  • Extra Visibility – thanks to their community building your business is much more likely to gain visibility which will ultimately generate more sales.
  • Access To Events – the SCDA holds a variety of different SoCalDG events that you will have access to via your membership.
  • Business Development Opportunities – Through networking and various other tactics, members of the SCDA are more likely to find new and exciting opportunities that otherwise would not have been available.
  • Members Only – Members have exclusive access to the Members Only section of the SCDA website.
  • Education/Training/Counseling – Members have access to educational training programs as well as individual counseling sessions which help teach you how to make the most out of your membership.

Joining The SCDA

According to the SCDA website, you can join the association for free by completing this form. This will give you access to several SCDA benefits.

Membership information is fairly limited on the SoCal Distillers Association website, but it does state that those looking for more information can do so by contacting them.

Things You’ll Need To Know

State Fees

Set-up fees for distilleries in California will really depend on how big the distillery is going to be and how much you want to be included in your license, along with a whole host of other decisions.

However, according to Kellie Shevlin, an executive director of the Craft Beverage Expo, a small distillery could require set-up fees of around $30,000 and then can move upwards of $200,000 depending on the size of your distillery.

Then you’ll also want to consider the tax for distillers and distributors of distilled spirits. For 100 proof or less, you can expect to pay around $3.30 per wine gallon and $6.60 per wine gallon for spirits over 100 proof.

Southern California Distillers Association

Licensing Requirements

All distilleries in California require a license. To secure this license, you’ll need to adhere to specific requirements. The first is the fee for the license. Licenses fall generally into two different categories, application fees, and annual fees.

General licenses will allow a permit for the sale of beer, wine, and distilled spirits, general priority licenses typically have an application fee of around $17,335, but that’s with pretty much everything included, there are also cheaper licenses available but these may restrict exactly what you can and cannot sell.

Licenses for premises that sell wine and beer but not distilled spirits have application costs of around $990.

Your annual fee schedule can differ depending on the license you have picked, you can find a detailed report of these fees here.

It’s also important to keep in mind that not everyone can necessarily obtain an alcoholic beverage license.

For example, the ABC may refuse your license if you have violated the ACT, have a disqualifying criminal record, or are otherwise disqualified.

Distillery Restrictions/Laws

The Alcoholic Beverage Control Act (ABC) has quite a few different rules and regulations on the production of alcohol in California. In fact, it has around 700 pages worth.

Obviously, I won’t go through each point with you now, but you can definitely take a look at the report yourself should you wish.

The main thing that you should keep in mind is that it is not legal to produce distilled spirits at home if they are not strictly for you. It is only legal for those distilling spirits in a TTB-qualified plant with the correct licensing.

Those found to be breaking these laws can expect a hefty fine and a potential prison sentence.

Final Thoughts

It can be a tricky business fighting against all the sharks when you feel like a small fish in the water. And this is the case for most up-and-coming, relatively small distillery owners.

And that is why SCDA put so much emphasis on advocating for those whose voices might less often be heard.

I would definitely recommend checking out a membership if you live in the area as it will help boost your business to new heights.

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