Napa Valley wineries should benefit from being able to offer sweepstakes and contests to California residents, thanks to a new state law that takes effect Jan. 1.

Wineries, among other alcohol producers, can offer sweepstakes and contests currently, but not to California residents, which hampers the local wine industry because it draws heavy amounts of tourists from within the state.

The law, which originated as Senate Bill 778, was passed by the California Legislature and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown earlier this year. The Napa Valley Vintners trade association, Treasury Wine Estates and the Napa County Board of Supervisors supported the bill during the legislative session.

Opponents of the bill included San Rafael–based Alcohol Justice, which argued that the law would increase alcohol consumption in the state and raised concerns about what the cost of increased consumption might be.

The Wine Institute sponsored the legislation, and said in a statement that California is the only state in the U.S. to prohibit these sweepstakes or contests.

“Sweepstakes and contests provide a winery with an important tool to build brand awareness with its consumer base, which is a challenge with over 8,000 wineries in the U.S. alone,” the organization said in the statement. “California now becomes the 50th state to allow sweepstakes and contests for wine, beer and spirits licensees.”

Margie Healy, vice president of communication for Sonoma County–based Korbel, testified in support of the legislation earlier this year, and said it will benefit wineries of all sizes.

For larger wineries such as Korbel that are already offering sweepstakes and contests, allowing California residents to participate will broaden their pool of potential contestants, Healy said. She said she’s received numerous complaints from California residents unable to participate in past contests.

“We are very excited,” Healy said. “We are just going to add California to the list of states that can participate. It really just opens the door.”

Healy said smaller wineries without large budgets for marketing or advertising will also benefit by marketing contests through social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter. The topics can vary in subject from naming a vineyard pet, such as a cat or a dog, to recipe contests, Healy said.

“It’s just going to give wineries of all sizes an opportunity to engage with their consumers,” she said.

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