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BYO Wine: Corkage Bill Awaits Governor 

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With belt-tightening all the rage, even among those who can afford a private wine stock, Virginia legislators are giving oenophiles another incentive to eat out.

Passed last month, just before the end of the General Assembly session, the so-called “Corkage Bill” amends state law to give restaurants the option of allowing patrons to bring their own wine to dinner. The bill leaves it up to restaurant owners, who must have a liquor license, to determine the fee for the service.

The bill's patron, Sen. Jeff McWaters, R-Virginia Beach, says his bill seeks to level the playing field. Current law allows only restaurants with private rooms the option for diners to bring wine from home. And he says restaurants near the state's north and southern borders suffered because of competition with eateries in North Carolina and Washington, D.C., where “corkage” is legal.

Ted Doll, owner of Zeus Gallery CafAc in the Museum District, isn't worried about the bill hurting his wine business.

“In this day in age I have to go out of my way to help people find their way into my restaurant,” he says. “If I'm making my money on food, giving people the option of bringing in their own wine … only helps my business.”

The bill awaits the signature of Gov. Bob McDonnell. If signed, the law will go into effect July 1.

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