Safeway in Maple Valley is among 30 grocery stores in Washington where shoppers will soon to be able to sample wine and beer.
The state Liquor Control Board included the store on Maple Valley Road on the list it announced Wednesday of locations for a wine and beer-tasting pilot program that will Oct. 1 and continue to to Sept. 30, 2009.
The Legislature early this year authorized the plan for each participating store to host 12 tastings during the 12-month period starting next month. The rules include:
• There can be only one tasting per month, though stores can choose to do the minimum of six tastings overall.
• Samples must be two ounces or less.
• And customers can consume a maximum of four ounces of the samples.
Minors or anyone who’s drunk won’t be allowed to try the samples, liquor board officials promised.
To avoid any such situations, store employees must be able to observe everyone in a designated tasting area, and the must complete a state-approved alcohol server training before they can dispense the samples.
State liquor enforcement officers will attend each store’s first tasting and will regularly conduct announced and unannounced visits and compliance checks to ensure laws and regulations are followed, officials said.
In June, the liquor board invited grocery stores to submit a letter if they wanted to participate in the tasting. Participating stores must encompass at least 9,000 square feet and primarily be a retailer of grocery products.
Half of the 30 participating stores are part of national grocery chains, and the other half are independently owned. The chains were asked to select which stores would participate.
In addition to Maple Valley, Safeway stores in Bellevue, Kirkland, Sammamish, Bainbridge Island, Wenatchee and Spokane are participating. Also on the list are QFC stores in Seattle, Bellevue and Redmond, a Fred Meyer store in Port Orchard, an Albertson’s location in Mill Creek, a Haggen Foods outlet in Bellingham, and a Top Food and Drug store in Woodinville.
The liquor board will review the program by surveying the participating stores for opinions and suggestions, a board spokeswoman said. The public can give its comments to the board via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information about the program is at www.liq.wa.gov.