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Tastings now allowed in county liquor stores

By Emery Cowan Herald staff writer

Liquor stores in the county will now be allowed to host tastings after La Plata County Commissioners voted to allow alcohol-tasting permits for retail liquor stores and liquor-licensed drug stores.

The county has received several requests from liquor stores that wanted to see tasting permits established in the county, including Les Layman, co-owner of Upper East Side Liquors.

“(A tasting permit) allows us to compete on a level playing field with the other local businesses in the city,” Layman said.

Upper East Side had received customer requests for tastings, Layman said.

There will be a $100 application fee and a yearly renewal process for the permits.

Erika Pray, owner of Wildcat Canyon Liquors, also celebrated the commissioners’ decision. The ability to allow customers to taste different wines opens their eyes to many wines they may not have considered before, Pray said. A customer may realize that a $20 wine actually tastes really nice, she said.

“Tastings would help people’s wallets,” she said.

The county has been trailing the city in regard to approving liquor tastings, so it’s about time the county caught up, Pray said. The city of Durango has permitted liquor stores to host tastings for several years, though city employees couldn’t nail down the exact number before Tuesday evening. The Wine Merchant, a wine store at 15th Street and Main Avenue, has long hosted weekly wine tastings. Allowing customers to taste a selection of wines “helps us further our wine-education agenda,” owner Eric Allen said.

“There is a big wine world out there beyond the varietals that everybody knows about. (Tastings) helps us introduce people to them,” Allen said.


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