What the New RBS Act Means for California Wineries

Credit: Rachel Claire Via Pexels  

Santa Clarita and its surrounding areas are home to some stunning wineries. Venture beyond Santa Clarita, and you’ll find even more vintners, winery owners and oenophiles who’ve devoted their life and energy to California wine.  

Naturally, after pouring so much love and attention into a product, wine entrepreneurs want to ensure that they do everything they can to see their business flourish. As of July 1st of this year, that might mean attaining RBS certification.  

This article serves as a short guide to California RBS certification. What is it, what does it mean for wineries, and how can you get your certification in time for the summer/fall tourist rush?  

What Is RBS?  

The Responsible Beverage Service – RBS, for short – Training Act follows 2017’s passage of Assembly Bill 1221. The bill required the Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) to create a training program educating alcohol purveyors on, among other things, the dangers of overserving and the dangers of serving minors.  

As of July 1st, “any on-premise alcohol server and manager must be certified by an accredited RBS training provider and pass an ABC exam within 60 calendar days from the first date of employment.”  

RBS and Winery Tasting Rooms  

Per the ABC, staff and managers of “tasting rooms (including off-sale locations)” need certification. And all new staff must obtain certification within 60 days of their initial employment.  

That means that California wineries wishing to capitalize on the summer and fall tourist rush in their tasting rooms need to get a fast start on RBS training for existing and new hires.  

Penalties for Non-Compliance 

Let’s not spend too much time discussing non-compliance. Instead, let’s assume that every quality winery worker reading this is as passionate about safe service as good wine.  

But quickly, it bears mentioning that licensed businesses can face a 10-day license suspension for non-compliance with the new mandate. The suspension can vary, however, according to how many non-certified workers are serving alcohol in the tasting room, how long they have been without certification and any prior warnings from the commission.  

RBS Training and Exams  

The process is the same for employees of winery tasting rooms as for any alcohol purveyor: certification from an accredited training provider, and a mark of 70% or higher on the ABC exam.  

Userve’s state-approved RBS Certification Training Program is the best place to start for tasting room managers and employees, as well as anyone else – vintners, owners, etc. – who take a hands-on approach to serving guests in the tasting room. The program is affordable, accessible online , available in English or Spanish, and comes with a comprehensive handbook and additional materials.  

Best of all, you and your servers can get certified in a matter of hours – well before the throngs of harvest season tourists descend upon your winery. After training, servers and managers just need to take and pass the ABC exam through the RBS portal to complete certification.  

The Responsible Beverage Service Training Program is a positive development for wineries. It helps ensure that servers gain the training and resources necessary to keep your valued guests safe. And, more generally, it reinforces the integrity of the California alcohol industry. Before uncorking that latest vintage, ensure that everyone who pours it for guests is RBS certified. 

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