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I spoke about the issues surrounding "host liability" for wineries at the recent wine law conference that was held in November here in Vancouver. Those of you that were there will have heard my warnings regarding a winery's potential legal liability if an individual who has been served alcohol at the winery is in an accident later that injures either himself or another person.

While I am unaware of any B.C. wineries being in this situation recently, a news story from California illustrates the expensive consequences of a failure to live up to the applicable legal standards. In this case, the Sonoma County winery had hosted a wedding event and served numerous beers to a guest who was, in fact, under age. That guest ended up in a car accident later in the night in which his passenger was seriously injured. The passenger sued the winery, 7-Eleven (who later had sold some additional alcohol to the pair), and the driver. The eventual settlement ended up with the winery shouldering the bulk of the costs.