Alcohol Beverage Law and Compliance


Dickenson Peatman & Fogarty has a long history serving members of the alcoholic beverage industry. Each day, we assist domestic and foreign wineries, breweries, distilled spirits plants, importers, wholesales, restaurants, hotels and other businesses navigate and comply with the laws and regulations of the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) and other administrative agencies throughout the United States. We advise our clients on any and all matters in the alcoholic beverage arena, including licensing, regulatory compliance, production and distribution agreements, and trade practices, as described in more detail below.  We also work closely with our Geographical Indications group in representing clients petitioning the TTB for American Viticultural Area (AVA) status.

Licensing: We provide advice regarding what types of alcoholic beverage licenses would best suit the business needs and goals of our clients, whether they are existing industry members or new entrants to the alcohol beverage world, and then assist with licensing at both the state and federal level. As part of our licensing work, we obtain California state alcoholic beverage licenses from the ABC, federal basic permits and registrations from the TTB, sellers permits and excise tax registrations from the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration and license from the California Department of Food and Agriculture where required. We also assist our production-side clients with FDA registration for their facilities. We can also obtain any out of state direct to consumer or supplier licenses to enable our clients to be able to ship and sell their products across the country.

Regulatory: Drawing from our extensive experience in the alcoholic beverage industry, our in-depth knowledge of both state and federal alcoholic beverage regulations, and our strong relationships with local, state and federal alcoholic beverage agencies throughout the United States, we are able to guide our clients through the maze of federal and state alcoholic beverage regulations. Our services range from  providing clients with daily “how to” guidance under governing alcoholic beverage regulations to answering complex questions related to, among other things, the sales, distribution and marketing of alcoholic beverages, alcoholic beverage labeling, franchise laws, import and export regulations, third party marketing, and direct-to-consumer shipping.

Production and Distribution Agreements: DP&F’s alcohol beverage department negotiates and drafts agreements specific to the alcoholic beverage industry, including alternating proprietorship agreements, custom crush agreements, grape purchase contracts, distribution agreements, transitional services agreements and third party marketing agreements. Our daily work in the alcoholic beverage field allows us to remain on top of regulatory changes and industry trends that would impact client’s rights and obligations under these agreements at the local, state and federal level.

Trade Practices: We provide guidance to our clients on the laws regulating the marketing, promotion and sale of alcoholic beverages. We advise our clients on a wide range of trade practice issues including events, ongoing promotions, tastings, advertising, celebrity brands, sponsorships, contests and sweepstakes, signage and consumer advertising novelties. We also guide our clients in the creation and design of promotional events, marketing programs and wine clubs to ensure compliance with state and federal regulations.

Compliance: We provide a complete range of compliance services to enable our clients to operate throughout the United States and internationally. Our full service compliance team can assist with all the on-going compliance needs of our clients, including monthly reporting and tax payment filings, license renewals, preparation of license updates and amendments for changes of ownership or proprietorships, review and submission of Certificates of Label Approval (COLAs) at both the state and federal level, preparation of use-up letters for the TTB, assistance with federal and state record keeping requirements, assistance with formula and laboratory approvals with TTB and state agencies, drafting of pre-import letters for the TTB and assistance with export certificates.

Representative Matters

Winery Development – Legal advice for vintners navigating land use entitlement and regulatory processes for winery construction, expansion, marketing and trade practices

Represented California nursery in negotiation of first of its kind contract for the licensing of clonal vine-plant material from Établissement Nationale Technique Pour L’Amélioration de la Viticulture

Supervising counsel in title, land use, alcohol beverage and legal review of international wine company with winery and vineyard holdings in Napa, Sonoma, Monterey and San Luis Obispo Counties

Provided legal advice to numerous vineyard owners seeking to make their own wine, including advice on business and licensing structures, navigation of land use entitlement process for winery construction and marketing and trade practice issues

Drafting and submission of formal comments responding to Notices of Proposed Rulemaking by the Alcohol, Tobacco, Tax & Trade Bureau on policies governing petitions to establish and modify American Viticultural Areas

Successfully petitioned the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau to establish American Viticultural areas

Represented Napa Valley Vintners before California Supreme Court in Bronco Wine Co. v. Cal. ABC and Napa Valley Vintners, 33 Cal.4th 943 (2004), 29 Cal.Rptr 3d 462 (2005)

Represent Napa Valley Vintners in worldwide protection of the Napa name

Represented clients before ABC and TTB in licensing and regulatory matters


We are proud to represent large and established members of the alcoholic beverage industry as well as many new, small or up-and-coming producers, distributors and retailers throughout the country. Our client list includes:

  • Accolade Wines North America
  • Anchor Brewing Company
  • Blankiet Estate
  • Cakebread Cellars
  • Dalle Valle Vineyards
  • Dirty & Rowdy Wine Company
  • Gott’s Roadside
  • Eight Bottles, LLC d/b/a Martine’s Wines
  • Kapscandy Family Winery
  • Napa Valley Reserve
  • Napa Valley Vintners Association
  • Remy Cointreau
  • Sloan Estate
  • Spirit Works Distillery
  • Thomas Keller Restaurant Group
  • Vineyard 29
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