Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation enabling nonprofits to accept and use gifts of homemade alcoholic beverages during fundraisers.

Currently, the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) prohibits individuals and nonprofits from selling homemade wine or beer — a prohibition many small nonprofits were unaware of until the ABC recently denied one-day alcohol permits for various charity events involving tastings or auctions of home-produced alcoholic beverages.

AB 1425, which takes effect on Jan. 1, 2014, includes provisions that homemade alcohol sold during fundraising events must be consumed on the premises and labeled to prohibit its resale.

“Assembly Bill 1425 will ensure that charities statewide can take full advantage of homemade wine and beer donations and use this fundraising tool to finance the valuable services they provide,” said Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, who along with Assemblymember Marc Levine, D-San Rafael, developed the section of the bill addressing the issue. “I applaud the governor’s decision to sign this measure into law, resolving an issue that was needlessly impacting nonprofits throughout the state.”

The permit issue created upheaval for many charity events. Last summer, the ABC shut down the Home Winemakers Classic, which had been held for more than 30 years in the Napa Valley as a fundraiser for the Lokoya-Dry Creek Fire Department.

“Our volunteer firefighter units are vital components of our county-wide fire suppression organization, supported by both the County taxpayer fire fund and local fundraising,” said Napa County Supervisor Diane Dillon. “They need both revenue sources to function, and I’m grateful to Sen. Wolk for seeing that this particular fundraising opportunity has been restored for entities like Dry Creek Fire Department.”

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Other events affected included the Home Winemakers Celebration, an annual fundraiser of the Sonoma Home Winemakers and Sonoma Valley High School Boosters, and the Active 20-30 club of Santa Rosa’s Battle of the Brews fundraiser, which has raised nearly $1 million over the past 15 years for children’s charities.

“This new bill is a wonderful thing for our club and the whole homebrew community. It clears up some confusion that was making it difficult to plan our more public and community-oriented events and let's homebrewers share their hobby with more people,” said Gabe Jackson,a board member of the Sonoma Beerocrats Homebrewing Club. “To us, it is all for the fun, education, and craft of it.”

“This bill is narrowly crafted to allow nonprofits to sell or auction off homemade wine and beer in fundraising events,” said Levine. “Nonprofit organizations are finding creative ways of raising critical funds for the community and this bill will help them in that effort. I was happy to work with Sen. Wolk on getting this important measure passed.”

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