Wine tasting is coming to SLO County farmers markets

San Luis Obispo County residents will soon get to sample wine while they shop for goods at some local farmers markets.

In July, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law allowing the operators of certified farmers’ markets to offer wine tastings. Only one licensed winegrower can offer tastings at each market in an area that’s separated from the rest of the event.

The San Luis Obispo County Farmers’ Market Association hopes to start offering wine tasting at several markets in Arroyo Grande, Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo, Market Administrator Peter Jankay said.

The association has just started sending out notices to invite local wineries to participate in their markets on a rotating basis.

The new law will help wineries market their product to a larger audience, Jankay said.

“That could help some of the smaller wineries that don’t get as much attention,” he added. “They could come to our market and have a very large exposure to a number of people.”

He hopes that tasting can start in late October at the Saturday morning market in San Luis Obispo’s Central Coast Plaza Shopping Center at 323 Madonna Road (near Embassy Suites). Soon after, wine could be offered in Morro Bay on Thursday afternoons at Spencer’s Fresh Markets, 2650 Main St.

The Arroyo Grande City Council unanimously approved a permit Sept. 23 to allow wine tasting at two local markets, including in the Smart & Final parking lot at 1464 East Grand Ave. on Wednesday mornings and Saturday afternoons along Olohan Alley in the Village.

An ordinance amending the city’s municipal code to allow consumption of alcohol in Olohan Alley will come back for final approval Oct. 14. It would take effect 30 days later.

Jankay said the nonprofit market association is in discussions with the San Luis Obispo Downtown Association’s Thursday Night Promotions Committee about allowing wine tasting at the Thursday night farmers market.

The legislation, Assembly Bill 2488, also specifies that winegrowers can’t pour more than a three-ounce taste of wine per person per day.

In addition, wineries may only sell estate wines, or wines made with grapes or other agricultural products grown and bottled by the vendor.