California Alcoholic Beverage Market: Regulations, Statistics, Trends, and Wholesalers

California is a very popular market within the alcoholic beverage industry. It’s a state that many new and established brands try to establish a presence in from day one. Find out everything that you need to know about doing business in California if you’re a supplier, wholesaler, and even a consumer looking to purchase.

In this guide, we cover consumption broken down by type i.e. spirits, wine, and beer in California. We also cover important laws and state regulations, as well as popular brands, retailer information, and distributors located in California.

Should you be interested in entering the local market, please fill out one of the forms on the page and a member of the Park Street Team will contact you. Find out how you can distribute your alcohol products in the state and grow your brand.

Consumption Trends In California

California is one considered one of the top markets within the alcoholic beverage market today. We’ll be sharing more in-depth information and providing charts displaying the consumption by 9-liter cases soon. If you’re looking for trends in other popular markets, consider checking out Florida consumption facts as well.

California Spirits Consumption from 2015-2020 by 9-Liter Cases

California Spirits

California Wine Consumption from 2015-2020 by 9-Liter Cases

California Wine

California Beer Consumption from 2015-2020 by 9-Liter Cases

California Beer Consumption

California Spirits Volume Sales By Category – 2020 Data

Spirit trends in California by volume and dollar sales in 2020.

Category Volume Sales
Thousands, 9-liter cases
Dollar Sales
Millions
Straight Whiskey 3,400 $945
Canadian Whisky 1,400 $492
Scotch Whisky 1,400 $711
Irish Whiskey 892 N/A
Gin 1,200 $378
Vodka 9,500 $3,000
Rum 2,400 $946
Tequila 4,500 N/A
Cordials/Liqueurs 2,000 $689
Cocktails 1,200 N/A

Source: Beverage Information Group
Coming Soon: Wine and beer trends in California by volume and dollar sales in 2020.

The Top 10 Spirits Brands
In California

  • Tito’s Handmade Vodka
  • Smirnoff
  • Jose Cuervo
  • Hennessy
  • Jim Beam Family
  • Jameson
  • New Amsterdam Vodka
  • E & J
  • Bacardi
  • Jack Daniel’s

The Top 10 Table Wine Brands
In California

  • Coming Soon!

The Top 10 Domestic Beer Brands
In California

  • Coming Soon!

Alcoholic Beverage Distributors Located In California

Any and all alcohol sold in the United States are subject to being done so through the three-tier system. What this means is suppliers and manufacturers must sell their products to a “middle tier” within the alcoholic beverage industry. This middle tier consists of both wholesalers and/or importers. The wholesalers and importers then market and sell products to on-premise and off-premise retailers.

 

If you’re looking for a list of distributors within the state of California, then the list below is what you’re looking for. You will find the most popular distributors listed below and if you’re looking for more information on distributors in other states, then be sure to check out the complete distributor list that we’ve put together. If you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for, please reach out to us for help or fill out one of the contact forms provided.

Wine & Spirits Distributors

More Coming Soon

Beer Distributors

More Coming Soon

More Distributors in California (A-Z)

Full California List Coming Soon!

Click here for a complete list of alcoholic beverage distributors. 

Self-Pitch Distribution Model

Finding the right distributor is often cited as one of the most difficult challenges to building a brand in the U.S. There are thousands of brands and industry consolidation has led to fewer distribution companies to choose from in each market.

As such, one option available to emerging brands is to use Park Street’s self-pitch distribution model.

The self-pitch distribution model is similar to the three-tier traditional distribution model where the product is delivered to retailers, but the key difference is that sales and marketing are handled by the supplier.

Selling Alcohol In California

This section covers everything you need to know about the alcohol industry in California and selling within the state. Find out everything from state compliance, to excise taxes and more.

Selling alcoholic beverages in the state of California, as well as in other states requires a lot of deep knowledge of laws at the state, county, and city levels. It’s important to understand these laws so that you remain compliant. Below you will find a list of many common questions related to off-premise and on-premise alcohol sales. Should you have any other questions, please feel free to reach out to our team.

FAQs on California Beer, Wine & Spirits Sales

What are the policies regarding the sale of alcohol on Sundays in California?

California allows the sale of alcohol on Sundays. However, it’s subject to local government discretion.

What are the alcohol laws in California?

California law lets those under 21 consume alcohol in a private location. Only if a parent, guardian, or relative is present and above the age of 21. It is illegal for a minor to have a BAC of .01% and operate a vehicle.

It is unlawful to sell alcohol between the hours of 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. It is also unlawful for any person to knowingly purchase alcohol or consume it between those hours. The penalty is a misdemeanor.

Alcoholic sales during prohibited hours include a maximum penalty of $1,000.00 and/or 6 months in county jail. Bars cannot sell alcohol after 2 a.m. and patrons have to be out by 3 a.m. or by the time stated in a city ordinance.

What are the hours retailers can sell alcohol?

The law of selling alcohol as a retailer is very clear. Business and Professions Code Section 25631 sets the retail hours for the sale of alcohol in the state and notes that retail licensees may not give, sell or deliver alcohol between the hours of 2 AM and 6 AM.

Do Walmart, Target, and CVS sell alcohol in CA?

Yes, beer and wine are sold at Walmart, as well as the Target grocery store. CVS convenience stores sell alcohol per the laws and regulations of the state and local municipality where the store is located provided that the purchaser of alcohol is 21 or older.

Target began selling alcohol in stores in 1996. Of the 171 Target stores in Southern California, 32 are in Orange County. Of those, 22 sell beer, wine, and spirits while nine sell only beer and wine. A store in Santa Ana on 17th Street is the only Target in Orange County that does not sell alcohol.

CVS convenience stores sell alcohol per the laws and regulations of the state and local municipality where the store is located.

Walmart stores sell alcohol in all the states including CA. As a result, the retailer knows the rules to sell alcoholic beverages in every state, either inside the grocery store or in a separate structure next to its main store. The Walmart alcohol sales hours in California are between the hours of 6 am and 1 am.

Do they sell liquor, wine, or beer in grocery stores in California?

Yes, grocery stores in California are able to sell, providing they are licensed to do so and they are selling within the designated hours allowed. These sales are off-premise sales and beer, wine and liquor may be purchased.

What is the alcohol excise tax rate in California?

Wine

$0.20 per gallon

Sparkling – $0.30 per Gallon

Natural Sparkling – $0.20 per gallon

Cider – $0.20 per gallon

Beer/Malt

$0.20 per gallon

Liquor

$3.30 per gallon

>50% abv – $6.60 per gallon

Do they sell liquor, wine, or beer in gas stations in California?

Yes, they sell beer and wine at gas stations in California, but there are strict laws around the marketing and advertising of such products in gas stations.

Buying Alcohol In California – Hours, Locations & Taxes

California, although some dry counties do exist, is not a dry state, which means you can buy alcohol within the state. If you’re looking to learn the rules, regulations, and laws on buying beer, wine, and spirits within the state, then see below.  Learn more about buying both off-premise and on-premise today.

FAQs on Buying Beer, Wine & Liquor in California

What is the alcohol tax in California?

California has a general sales tax of 6% that applies to all purchases of beer, wine, and spirits. Vendors selling liquor are also subject to a state and federal excise tax.

Can you buy liquor in grocery stores in CA?

Yes, you can buy alcohol in grocery stores that are licensed to sell in the state of California.

Can you buy alcohol in gas stations in California?

Yes, you can buy wine and beer in gas stations in the state of CA but there are marketing restrictions within the gas stations.

Can you buy alcohol on Sunday in CA?

Yes, you can buy alcoholic beverages on Sundays in California.

Does California allow direct-to-consumer shipping?

Yes and no. In California, they will ship wine directly to consumers but shipping beer and liquor is prohibited.

What times can you buy liquor, wine, or beer in California?

The sale of alcohol is allowed between the hours of 6 AM and 2 AM 7 days a week.

Can you order alcohol to go in California?

Yes, you can order alcohol to go in the state of California.

Where in California can buy alcohol off-premise?

You can buy alcohol off-premise in CA at any business location that has a license to sell alcoholic beverages for off-premise consumption. The condition is that they must be sold in packages that were made by the manufacturers.

Where can buy alcohol for on-premise consumption in CA?

You can buy alcohol for on-premise consumption at multiple locations throughout the state. Different locations such as restaurants, bars, taverns, night clubs, veteran’s clubs, licensed trains, licensed boats, and licensed airlines. You can also buy if you’re a passenger of a licensed vessel of more than 1000 tons. There are other locations such as licensed hospitals, convalescent homes or rest homes, nonprofit theatres, and bed and breakfast inns as well.


(Data Sources – abc.ca.gov)

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