Given what I wrote about yesterday, regarding Barrel Tasting weekend being out of control in the younger demographic, and having a response from Richard that included “Social Host,” I think it’s interesting to ask….

Are you aware of this?

I’m providing this as a public service announcement (P.S.A.), just so you know.


Parents, school board members, town council members, even college professors have lost their jobs or been criminally charged because they’ve been accused of being a Social Host.

Who’s a Social Host ?

Being called a Social Host means you’ve been charged with an unintended crime of allowing teens to drink in your home. Not buying alcohol for teens or serving alcohol to teens; just not doing enough to prevent them from drinking in your home.

Why should responsible parents be concerned?

Because depending on how the law is written in your community, you could be arrested when a teenager drinks in your home–even if you’re not there! Just last week, a father in Washington State was charged as a Social Host while he was out-of-town because his son was mobbed by teens wanting to party in a parent-less home.

To understand the social host laws in your community (and nationally), I encourage you to visit the new website This site is the source for parents and families for:

  • Helping parents navigate the tricky issues of underage drinking and the law
  • The latest news and research on underage drinking
  • Resources to share with your friends and family
  • Community and Connection

This Website is the brainchild of Helene Epstein. From her site:

I first became interested in Social Host Ordinances when Westchester Magazine assigned me the story of a well-respected Scarsdale couple’s arrest for providing minors with alcohol on New Year’s Eve 2005. “A Parent’s Nightmare” appeared as a 3,500-word feature story in the June 2005 issue of Westchester Magazine. It chronicled the arrest of the Taxins and the issues surrounding underage drinking and the host law, from the point-of-view of the police, parents, parenting and legal experts. As a regional look at a growing national trend, it became part of a countywide constructive dialogue among parents, educators and the law enforcement community. Since then, I’ve widened and deepened my research.

This press release both intrigued me and concerned me… I raised three daughters, and wine has part of our world since leaving Maine 19 years ago. I’ve had my daughters’ friends in our home and wine is just part of our culture. (My daughters are now all of age and with their own children.) I’m betting that our California world is more permissive in this Social Host regard, because winery owners have kids. To impost this law as a letter-of-the-law on these owners would be this side of ridiculous, just as it would be in any other wine grape growing country. When you get into a state where wine grape growing doesn’t have the same economic impact for the state’s revenue… like either of the Dakotas or even Maine, let’s say, I can see where this law is really taken as letter of the law, and doesn’t foster any thought for wine being a socially civilizing beverage and/or as part of a cultured life style.

What an interesting country we have become, having been founded by Puritans who were escaping what they perceived as religious persecution in the early 1620s. They came here with their own standards of prohibitionism, which still stands today; and, continues to find ways to punish anyone who steps outside of their own dogma boundaries. While the law was originally intended to protect young adults from those who willfully provided alcohol to under-aged drinkers, it’s swung way to the right… as things seem to go with extremists.

Helene Epstein is just making us aware of our surroundings, as am I.