As expected, Initiative 1183 was approved by Washington voters by a wide margin on Tuesday. Here’s what comes next.

With its passage, Initiative 1183 closes state liquor stores, privatizes liquor distribution and sales, permits volume discounting for wine and spirits, and allows central warehousing. These changes will happen on the following timeline.

Private sales of spirits for distributors can commence March 1, 2012. Private sales of spirits for retailers can commence on June 1, 2012. The Liquor Control Board (LCB) must close state liquor stores no later than June 1, 2012. Between now and May 31, 2012, the LCB must devote sufficient resources to depleting all of its existing inventory. It must finish all other asset sales by June 1, 2013. The board must also auction off the right to operate each of the present liquor stores.

I do not see specific language regarding the commencement of volume discounting and central warehousing. My expectation is that both would be able to commence immediately.

As I have written previously, expect this initiative to have a significant impact upon the Washington wine industry. Time will tell exactly how these changes play out. However, to wineries that had concerns about the passage of this initiative, the time is now to determine how this affects your production, sales, and marketing approaches and adjust them accordingly. Volume discounting is now the law of the land.