Pour Yourself Another Regulation!

By William Thompson

Our Governor envisions an “Innovation State” that leverages new technologies and attracts investment, yet the Oregon Liquor Control Commission has blocked that vision from becoming a reality for small business owners in the heart of Oregon’s wine country.

John Stuart, founder of the Agri-Vino Wine Center in Carlton, invested in a new wine preservation and dispensing technology, called Enomatic, to launch Oregon’s model agro-farm. Five years of planning, $125,000 dollars later, and three days before opening, the OLCC suddenly revoked their permit. The OLCC argues that customers activating this system to sample wines using a pre-paid card constitutes “self-pour”–illegal in Oregon, even though cards are sold exclusively by licensed employees and strictly limit consumption to less than 10 one-ounce samples within a two-hour period. Yamhill County Commissioner Mary Stern has requested the Governor to intervene by August 1st to allow this new innovation to go forward.

Whatever happens will ultimately affect the 232 Yamhill County wineries located within a thirty-mile radius of the new agro-farm. Agri-Vino planned to provide more opportunities to the county and support agro-tourism by showcasing 56 local wineries instead of the traditional 6 to 8. Enomatic technology can eliminate the unavoidable costs of human wine dispensing errors and oxygen alteration, thus making financially viable a business that is now unfeasible under OLCC regulations.

This nonsensical decision contradicts the OLCC’s stated principle of “supporting economic viability for Oregonians” and makes the agency the object of ridicule across the political spectrum. The decision should be reversed.


William Thompson is a research associate at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market research center.

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Posted by at 06:00 | Posted in Measure 37 | 63 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Jerry

    What would we ever do without our great state government holding our hands each and every day.

    I only hope if they get the exemption that taste testers will be required to wear helmets.

  • Rupert in Springfield

    Yet another reason why so many tend to look upon government agencies as more akin to incompetent children than responsible adults. The author clearly states that the permit was revoked, indicating it had initially been issued. How childlike to change ones mind on what would seem to be a central feature of this operation: the Enomatic machine. How odd, the perplexed look, again like the stunned teenager, when told that based upon past behaviour the citizenry is far from enthralled with the idea of increasing the teenagers allowance or level of responsibility.

    At this point, any reasonable adult and probably most teenagers would realize that changing ones mind often has consequences for others as well as oneself. In this case clearly the business will suffer financial loss for the folly of a fickle agency. To save any face at all, the teenager would be at a bare minimum feel compelled to apologize. An adult would make restitution. The government agency will do neither, and thus they will be forever thought incompetent and foolish. If any of the OLCC board are in the process of raising teenage children, one can only wonder how they rationalize the dichotomy of their actions at work with those of childrearing.

    • OLCC

      “… and three days before opening, the OLCC suddenly revoked their permit.” – William

      “… The author clearly states that the permit was revoked, indicating it had initially been issued.” -Rupert

      William and Rupert:

      The OLCC granted AgriVino with a Winery License effective April 1, 2008, which as of today, is still in effect. At no time has the OLCC revoked the Winery License of AgriVino. Upon discovery that the licensee proceeded to purchase the equipment with the intended use for self-serve, the OLCC informed AgriVino that they can continue to use their equipment as long as a valid service-permit holder dispenses the wine. The machines are in use in other parts of the state and are being used by service-permit holders with no problems or complaints.

      • F.N. Taxpayer

        Wrong again OLCC supporter! The OLCC issued AgriVino’s license on March 14, 2008 for its requested April 1 effective date. The license was issued without any restrictions at all. The OLCC’s own record indicates that the knew the business plan for Agrivino incorporated the use of the Enomatic machines and what’s more the ABSOLUTE evidence exists that their agent (Chris Nolte) knew exactly how they would be used as AgriVino has a copy of his internal email sent to another colleague explaining Agrivino’s intended use on July 27, 2007! More than a month AFTER the license was effective and exactly 3 days prior to its announced “soft opening” the OLCC decided that “there is a problem with self serve” and advised Agrivino . Agrivino responded by attempting to work within the system to cure the problem only to discover quickly that the OLCC was being dishonest in their portrayal of willingness to consider the request for consideration they told AgriVino to submit. In fact, it soon became obvious that the OLCC was actively working to subvert any resolution that might favor AgriVino’s business plan. The long and short is that AgriVino got bushwhacked by bureaucratic incompetence and ultimately set up by a legion of deceitful players seeking only to cover up their initial unbelievably stupid decision by conjuring even more crap and rolling out one made up excuse after another. Too bad for all concerned that an otherwise great idea got turned around by a sorry bunch of Keyston Kops.

  • Crawdude

    True liberalism, at its worst. You’d think that eventually the Oregon sheepizens would tire of this; apparently they’ve been taught not to think.

  • dean

    CD….what does this have to do with “liberalism?” It is more often conservatives who legislate morality, like alchohol consumption. It is in the Bible belt where we have dry counties and no liquor sales on Sundays for example. And it was religous conservatives who were behind Prohbition no (Woman’s *Christian* Temperance Union)?

    I thought we liberals were drug addled hedonists? Don’t blame us for OLCC

    • Crawdude

      Dean, liberals create bureaucracies to control the lives of others and control their livelihood. This isn’t about the wine dispenser, its about an out of control group that was formed and is supported by the liberals in this states corrupt government.

      This winery is suffering, much like the Greek is suffering under the crosshairs of the corrupt liberal politicians in Portland. Randy Leonard being the front runner.

      Nice try to toss it off to religious and / or conservatives but I just don’t see that many in charge in this state ( there’s a dry county in Oregon or were you trying to change the subject again?).

    • Rupert in Springfield

      “Wait a second Wally, you mean those angry women that wanted to be able to vote, like those were progressive women?”

      “Yeah Beav, you didn’t know that, they were for women’s rights so then that makes them good so then that makes them from the left right?”

      “I guess Wally…. but wait a second, those same angry women get all weird about drinking too? I mean didn’t they sort of go off and tell everyone they couldn’t drink either?”

      “Gosh Beav, you are all mixed up, see, when they did that, then they were doing something stupid, so then obviously then they are conservative”

      “It sure is hard to keep all this name changing straight Wally, they were the same group of people”

      “Look Beav, its real simple, whenever anything happens that’s bad in history, just blame it on conservatives, anything good, its all from the left. See?”

      “Oh ok, I got it Wally, kinda like how Democrats were the ones who got blacks the vote, but everyone in the South denying them the vote was a Democrat also but since they were bad they weren’t real Democrats they were kind of really like hidden Republicans?'”

      “Your learning Beav…..The Democrats freed the blacks in the South from Southerners. There were no Democrats in the South then, they are non persons. They did not exist except in something that has gone wrong in your mind. They were never truly there at all and you must learn that here with me now.”

      “Winston…..How many fingers am I holding up?”

      “Two Wally….two….why are you calling me Winston?”

      “Isn’t that your name?”

      “I love you Wally, I really do love you”

      “How many fingers?”

      “I really do see four fingers, I really do”

      “Everything becomes clear in Room 101 doesn’t it Winston?”

      “Yes Wally, everything is clear when my mind is clear and the party thinks for me. That is freedom Wally, true freedom from both self and thought”

  • John Fairplay

    Good example from 80 years ago – it’s certainly applicable to modern times.

    Liberals aren’t _only_ drug-addled hedonists. They’re also buzz-killing (for everyone else) Communists. Liberals are about _power_ – about forcing people to live the way _they_ want them to live. About taking away Liberty.

    • dean

      John…the Terry Shiavo case was not 80 years ago, not even 8. And do you consider Kansas to be a “liberal” state? Here is a summary of Kansas regulations on alchohol:

      Kansas’s alcohol laws are among the strictest in the United States. Kansas prohibited all alcohol from 1881 to 1948, and continued to prohibit on-premises sales of alcohol from *1949 to 1987* . Sunday sales only have been allowed since 2005. *Today, 29 counties still do not permit* the on-premises sale of alcohol. 59 counties require a business to receive at least 30% of revenue from food sales to allow on-premises sale of alcohol. Only 17 counties allow general on-premises sales. Sales are prohibited on Memorial Day, Labor Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. The only alcoholic beverage which grocery stores and gas stations may sell is beer with no more than 3.2% alcohol by weight. Other liquor sales only are allowed at *state-licensed retail liquor stores* .

      80 years ago? Power? Forcing people to live the way they want them to live? Taking away liberty? I’d say its about equal. For one side it is economics, for the other morality. Go live in Kanasas and try to be a hard rinking abortion doctor who teaches his kid evolution theory and see how free you feel. I’ll bet recycling is harder there as well.

      • Crawdude

        Pretty sure we’re talking about this state………………changing the subject again?

        • dean

          CD…I was taking issue with what I read as your universal statement that associated liberalism with a desire to control who pours what in which glass. There are lots of things liberals like me want to have more control over, but this particular issue is not one of them. Social conservatives do care a lot about it. I used an example from another state where social conservatives have clearly been in control of government for many years 9though they do have a moderate Democratic governor at this time). If you don’t buy the argument, so be it. I’ll rest my case.

          • Steve Plunk

            Let me take a stab at this.

            Typically liberals believe solutions to problems can be found through the government. Increased taxes for more government programs, increased regulations to control individuals and business, and increased laws in general to codify the rules of society.

            Typically conservatives believe the government causes more problems than it solves. All of the increases described above lead to a reliance on government rather than traditional societal interaction between individuals.

            In the case of the OLCC we see a bureaucracy more focused on it’s control of people than accomplishing it’s primary task of public safety. Because of it’s reliance on statutes, regulations, interpretations, and internal policies the OLCC appears to have no room for common sense in regulation and enforcement.

            Now I understand these descriptions are generalities and stereotypes but those stereotypes do not manifest themselves in a vacuum. Conservatives may be adverse to liquor (not me by the way) but liberals seem to be more concerned with the size of the glass or who pours it. Worrying about such minutia leads to confusion and unfair application of law.

          • dean

            Steve…my scorecard looks like this:

            Things liberals generally believe have sollutions best provided by active government:
            1) pollution
            2) poverty
            3) education (includes chools and libraries)
            4) food and product safety
            5) transportation
            6) basic services (clean water, sewage treatment
            7) Land use planning
            8) Personal weapons

            Things conservates generally believe have sollutions best provided by active government:
            1) Crime & punishment
            2) Reproductive choice
            3) Recreational drug and alchohol prohibition or control
            4) Mustachioed foreign dictators who annoy us
            5) Transportation
            6) basic services (clean water, sewage treatment

            I’d say its about a wash. Just different priorities.

            In the OLCC case, I’m in no way defending their decision. I frankly have no problem with people pouring their own wine.

          • Crawdude

            I’m pretty sure that in my original statement it was clear by my “Oregon sheepizens” remark that I was talking about the current government in Oregon. Even if they wanted to, they couldn’t change other states. Therefore any change of subject from Oregon is just that.

            As I recall in the Shaivo case, her parents wanted her kept alive and the sole beneficiary (250K) ex-husband wanted the plug pulled. Hardly a case one would like to hang their hat on as right wing religious conspiracy, though some religious and non-religious groups choose to try and help the parents in their struggle.

            Now back here in Oregon, I read where the large, failing, socialist experiment known as the “Oregon Health Plan” showed its true liberal roots. A lady battling cancer was denied the drugs that might save her. The state graciously sent her a letter letting her know that they’d be happy to provide her ” free of cost ” the drugs with which to commit suicide though. How thoughtful of them, I’m sure she was thrilled they cared. Oregon liberalism at its best 🙂

          • dean

            Yeah…I should have added “death” to my conservative list. Conservatives seem to want government to force people to stay alive to the bitter end, yet resent the government paying for the health care to keep people alive. How they manage this contradiction is beyond my powers.

  • Scottiebill

    Don’t look for Teddy the Useless to intervene in this. He will do absolutely nothing to help the people of Oregon or anywhere else. Take his position on off-shore drilling, for instance. He is like all the other liberals around the country. He gives not one solitary damn about the common people.

    The OLCC should rescind their order against Mr. Stuart and let him go ahead with his idea. So it looks like it is “self-pouring”. So what? If I go into a saloon in Portland and order a bottle of beer and a glass (because I don’t really like drinking beer directly from the bottle), am I expected to as the bartender to pour the beer into the glass every time I want to put more into the glass. Of course not. But it is “self-pouring” if I do it myself.

    The whole thing by the OLCC is stupid.

  • Anonymous

    dean is a propagandist, forever twisting the topic and conversation.

    In this case he’s diverting to grand ideas about liberals gone by while ignoring the current ilk and their public employee union regime who block the genuinely progressive ideas like public charter, public online charter schools and school choice.

    The damage the far left socialist liberals do has been mushrooming for years and is now approaching a level of severity which may trigger decades worth of fiscal and societal calamity.

    They stiffle everything while bellowing that Bush has destroyed the country and constitution.

    Now they are crippling the country by constricting energy supplies to the point of widespread detriment.

  • sybella

    As one who deals with OLCC, their good is outweighed by the bad. I for one, would like to see them abolished. They have the state of Oregon in the business of selling alcohol. Government has no business being in business, especially when they don’t know how.

  • John Stuart

    Hello to all, this is the infamous owner of AgriVino (you know, the place the OLCC refers to as a “threat to society and public safety”). I just got off the phone with the legal representative of the Governor. I’ve been waiting for nearly three weeks for our Governor to comment on the actions of the OLCC and, in particular, to see if he would embrace his oath of office which specifies that he uphold the laws of the State of Oregon and its Constitution governing the same. Hey, here’s a real surprise…the Governor’ office is essentially backing the OLCC by making no statement at all about the egregious interpretation of their actions in defiance of Section 39 (2) of the Constitution of the State of Oregon. All of you that are commenting should take just a moment and Google it for yourself. DO NOT rely on my interpretation but look and determine for yourself what the constitution says about equal treatment and its instructions relative to construing things liberally to facilitate business. Never mind all the subsequent cover up and fabrication we believe the OLCC has conducted; that’s incidental to the fact that the leadership of this state could care less about little things like citizens rights, the spirit and intent of the law and curbing abuses of rogue agencies.

    • Sybella

      You should contact your congressman ( I know that was funny). We had a major problem with OLCC to the point it was funny. To the point an OLCC employee came charging into the store waving a paper hollering “I got you now”. Apparently we didn’t give a little girl a nickel for her pop can after she was used to trap us. We don’t have to take anything we don’t sell and we don’t sell pop in cans. She was so upset, this small child ran to the OLCC office and turned us in. It wasn’t the nickel, this had been going on for quite a while. Ted Ferrioli came into the store one day and I was telling him about it. His comment was, it sounded to him like somebody had too much time on their hands. The harrassment has stopped since then, so at least that time it paid off.

      We carefully follow the law because it’s our bread and butter. I haven’t much patience though with stupidity and the harrassment was just that.

  • Jerry

    As I have said before, Teddy is the worst governor in the history of Oregon hands down and the worst current serving governor in the nation.
    We must all be proud of his greatness.

  • Anonymous

    Of course today’s liberals are control freaks. And dishonest ones at that, forever doing so under false premesis and ulterior motives.

    Pitching for tax “reform” when they want new, more and increased taxes.

    Pitching for land use reforms when all they really want is to further label, designate and lock up land from use.

    Pitching for transportation funding when all they want is more tax money for transit, ped and bike facilities.

    Liars, pigs, thieves and incompetent fools pushing l along their lame socialist agenda as if no one as smart as them ever tried it.

    Health care, Global Warming, the gap between the rich and the poor. Hand over your money, your property, livestyles and your choices, the deans will make it all better.

    • dean

      Somebody didn’t get enough hugs growing up. Awww. Poor wittle thing. Let me get you some milk and cookies. Better now?

  • Anonymous

    No dean, go take care of yourself. Get a bureaucrat job where you can really suck at it, get yearly raises, always be guaranteed the job, abuse the postion and the puiblic and retire early.

    Instead of distributing the Metro, CoP, Governor Kulongoski, Sierra Club BS on every thread.

    • dean

      Way ahead of you. I had a bureaucrat job, was darn good at it, but quit to go back into business for myself. Leaves me more time to annoy you, whoever you are or aren’t.

      Now go get your blankie and watch cartons for a while. You’ll feel much better.

  • Anonymous

    I can only presume how lousy you were at it, given your lack of understanding so much. A confused state you are in.

    • dean

      And an odd form of syntax you have. Like talks Yoda sometimes.

      • Anti-Dean

        Dean, you’re one to be talking. Few people can barely understand 75% of what leaves your fingers.

        • dean

          If FEW people can understand 75% of my posts, that means MANY people do understand 75%. And for all we know the FEW who do not understand 75% MAY undrestand 100%.

          Thanks for the vote of confidence.

  • Gullyborg

    Oregon is the only state I have lived in where only the government was allowed to sell bottles of hard liquor. And not on Sundays.

    Is the OLCC controlled by right wing Christians?

    I don’t think so.

    Oregon government needs to get out of the liquor business altogether. I don’t often look to California as a role model, but even California is “progressive” enough (in the true Teddy Roosevelt sense of the word) to allow just about any retail outlet to sell beer, wine and liquor 24/7.

    And, I just saw a “self serve” wine bar like the one mentioned here on a Travel Channel TV show – and, remarkably enough, the customers were happy and responsible. Too bad we can’t open a business like that in Oregon.

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