Governor Inslee signed House Bill 1004 into law April 23, 2015, allowing students under 21 enrolled in enology and viticulture programs at four-year universities to taste — but not consume — wine as part of their instruction. The bill previously passed in the Senate with a vote of 38-6, and it passed through the House with a vote of 94-4.
All students in the Washington State University Viticulture and Enology Program will now have the ability to smell, taste and spit wines to hone their sensory skills, which is an integral part of wine education curriculum. All students, regardless of age, may not swallow wine tasted during class.
Similar legislation was passed in 2013 that authorized community and technical colleges to apply for special tasting permits for students enrolled in wine-related programs. HB 1004 simply amends current law to provide the same authorization for regional and state universities.
Since 2010, WSU Viticulture and Enology Program Director Thomas Henick-Kling, Sensory Science Professor Carolyn Ross, and the WSU Attorney’s Office helped to shape this bill and have supported it as it made its way through the legislature. Previously, underage students would taste something that replicated the sometimes harsh mouthfeel of red wine, like grape juice with a dash of hot sauce.