YAKIMA, Wash. — Gov. Jay Inslee has signed a bill to allow 18- to 20-year-old students to taste small amounts of alcohol as part of a wine, beer or culinary program.
The bill passed the Senate with a 42-7 vote in March. The House followed with an 89-4 vote earlier this month.
The wine industry, including universities with wine programs, felt the law was necessary in order to get more people trained sooner for jobs in the growing industry.
Locally, several programs in the region stand to benefit, including Central Washington University’s World Wine Program and Yakima Valley Community College’s Vineyard and Winery Technology programs.
Trent Ball, chairman of YVCC’s agriculture department, has said that some students had to spend an extra year in school so they would be old enough for advanced winemaking classes where tasting is a more essential part of the curriculum.
And he thought making students wait until they were 21 risked losing them to other careers.
In response to concerns of the potential for abuse, the bill emphasizes that students younger than 21 are allowed to taste but not consume alcoholic beverages; most wine and culinary programs use the taste-and-spit method when sampling wines and other alcoholic beverages.