Consumer Wine Tastings in Jeopardy in California
Pinot Days, the annual tasting of Pinot Noir produced by Lisa and Steve Rigisich’s Bay Area Wine project is all of a sudden, after 1o years conducting this non-profit tasting, being told that they are responsible for paying taxes on their Pinot Days entry tickets (which the BOE calls gate receipts). Lisa and Steve consulted the Board of Equalization back in 2005 and were advised statute 6073.2. for Trade shows applied, as Pinot Days clearly is not selling tangible property nor are the attending exhibitors, but instead are providing a place for wineries to showcase what they produce.
The Rigisiches are appealing this odd decision by the Board of Equalization. But if they lose this battle, the tax bill (tens of thousands of dollars) would devastate the viability of Pinot Days, one of the best wine trade shows in California.
Among the various questions that needs to be asked is which other public wine tastings (which are classified similarly to Pinot Days) will the BOE be coming for next? ZAP? Family Winemakers of California tasting? Pinot On the River? These are just the tip of the iceberg. Those that need in particular to be worried are the wine tastings that operate under 501(c)3 federal tax status.
Pinot Days is one of if not the largest gathering of Pinot Noir producers in the world. Lisa and Steve have expanded from originally gathering Pinot producers just in San Francisco to presenting Pinot Days in Southern California, Chicago and New York. What’s particularly beneficial about Pinot Days is that the event attracts primarily small, family owned Pinot estates, giving us something to taste that is generally very hard to find. The event primarily supports the small guys—which often need the most exposure to succeed.
Other wine event producers who want to better understand the problems and challenges that are besetting Lisa and Steve Rigisch and Pinot Days can contact them at [email protected]. Pinot producers who have benefited from exhibiting at Pinot Days and even consumers who have benefited and been enthralled by the massive display of the heartbreak grape at the Pinot Days events should also contact Lisa Rigisich to find out how they can help.