Sale and Supply of Alcohol Reforms – restrictions include cellar door sales

Tuesday 27 August 2013

Author: Marija Batistich

First published in NZ Winegrower, August-September 2013 edition.

The Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 (the Act) came into force late last year. This Act has made some significant changes for wineries in relation to underage drinking, promotion of alcohol and one-off events.

Underage Drinking

The Act retains the legal age to purchase alcohol at 18 years. For those under this age, the new legislation takes a more restrictive approach to the service of alcohol to minors.

Minors may still be supplied alcohol when accompanied by their parents however this is now limited to situations where it is believed on reasonable grounds that the winery has the express consent of the parent or guardian of the minor, and supplies the alcohol in a "responsible manner". In determining whether alcohol was supplied in a responsible manner factors such as the steps taken to supervise the consumption of the alcohol, whether food was provided with the alcohol, whether low-alcohol or non-alcoholic beverages were offered, the nature of the occasion, arrangements for safe transport, the period over which alcohol was supplied, the strength of the alcohol and the age of the minor will all be considered. Wineries accordingly need to ensure that any alcohol supplied to minors, even with express parental permission, is supplied in accordance with these guidelines.

In providing alcohol to minors, wineries also need to be aware of whether the area is a restricted or supervised area under the relevant liquor licence. This remains unchanged from the previous legislation so that a minor is unable to enter a restricted area, even while supervised however may consume alcohol in a supervised area provided they are accompanied by a parent.

Promotion of Alcohol

The Act has bought about significant changes in relation to the promotion of alcohol. Advertisements may not promote alcohol in a manner aimed at, or likely to have special appeal to, minors.

Alcohol also cannot now be promoted or advertised off the premises if the advertisement leads people to believe that the price is 25% or more below the price at which the alcohol is ordinarily sold. On premises advertisements for such discounts are also restricted where the promotion can be seen or heard from outside the premises. As such, discounting offers need to be reviewed to ensure compliance with this requirement and some commonly used promotions, such as two for one deals, are now unacceptable in some circumstances.

These restrictions also apply to advertising of alcohol that is free of charge, however the Act does include an exception for complementary sampling on premises holding an off-licence where the sample is consumed on the premises. This provides for free wine sampling on wine tours and in promoting the wine on site.

Offers made outside licensed premises for any goods or services, or the opportunity to win a prize, on the condition that alcohol is bought are now also not permitted, however this does not apply to loyalty programmes that provide rewards or discounts, unless those rewards or discounts apply only or primarily to alcohol. Many loyalty schemes are accordingly now banned and advice should be sought before using such deals.

One-off Events

Wineries are still required to obtain a special licence for one-off events. The new Act now however provides for two different types of special licences: on-site special licences and off-site special licences. On-site special licences allow the licensee to sell or supply alcohol for consumption on the premises to people attending the event described in the licence. These licences would be obtained for events taking place at the vineyard itself. Off-site special licences allow the licensee to sell the licensee's alcohol, for consumption somewhere else, to people attending the specified event. An example of a situation in which an off-site special licence would be obtained is where a particular wine tour, outside the scope of one's usual operating licence, was taking place and participants purchased alcohol to take away with them. Holders of off-site special licences may also supply free samples of alcohol for consumption on the premises.


This publication is necessarily brief and general in nature. You should seek professional advice before taking any action in relation to the matters dealt with in this publication.

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