About Susan

Susan Johnson has more than two decades of experience as an alcohol beverage regulatory attorney. She assists beer, wine and spirits producers, grocers, specialty retailers, restaurant and hotel chain owners and operators, sports and entertainment facility concessionaires, common carriers, contract food service management companies and other beverage and hospitality industry companies by:

  • Providing guidance through complex federal state and local alcohol licensing requirements.
  • Developing three-tier compliant sales, distribution, and advertising strategies.
  • Coordinating administrative violation defense.
  • Advising on regulatory reporting requirements related to changes in corporate ownership and governance.
  • Evaluating innovative alcohol products and distribution models.
  • Drafting proposed legislation and rule amendments to accommodate emergent alcohol industry business models.
  • Collaborating with state and federal alcohol regulators to overcome regulatory challenges for breweries, wineries, and distilleries.


“I cannot express how much I appreciate your support on this deal and securing the licensing approvals. [Y]our hard work and expertise enabled us to work through all of the issues that arose…. This is a significant milestone for the company, and your work and expertise plays a direct contribution in ensuring that [the company] is set up for success in Washington. I had complete confidence in you throughout the transaction, and you made my job significantly easier. I know firsthand how much work goes into staying on track of all the moving parts, and you guys made it look easy.”
In-House Counsel, National Brewing Company        

As stated by beverage alcohol clients, “An excellent attorney.” “Susan is a seasoned professional in the field and provides very thoughtful advice.” “She is very good with clients, knowledgeable and responsive.” (Chambers USA)


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Two decades’ experience:

  • Providing guidance on tied-house laws and formulating compliant business investment and expansion strategies.
  • Vetting advertising and promotional opportunities for large malt beverage, wine and spirits importers and producers.
  • Providing malt beverage, spirits, and wine producers guidance on federal and state regulatory requirements for concert venue and professional and collegiate sport sponsorship agreements and activations.
  • Acting as special counsel for hotel owners and operators in liquor license transitions.

Additional experience:

  • Representation of state hoteliers’ association in drafting legislation and implementing rules that created a hotel liquor license in Washington State.
  • Representation of luxury theater in passage of legislation to allow in-theater liquor service.
  • Participated in Washington State Liquor Control Board process that resulted in relaxation of tied-house laws in Washington State.
  • Assisted international brewer in acquisition of craft brewing operations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.
  • Assisted largest U.S. winery with winery facility acquisitions in Washington State.
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Honors & Activities

  • Selected as one of “America’s Leading Lawyers for Business” (Nationwide) by Chambers USA (Food & Beverages: Alcohol), 2014–2023


  • Member of the Year Award, Washington State Hotel & Lodging Association, 2007
  • Former Director, Washington Wine Industry Foundation
  • Associate Member National Association of Licensing and Compliance Professionals
  • Member, Alliance of Alcohol Industry Attorneys & Consultants
  • Associate Member, National Conference of State Liquor Administrators
  • Associate Member, National Alcoholic Beverage Control Association
  • Associate Member, Washington Brewers Guild
  • Allied Member, Washington State Hospitality Association
  • Allied Member, Brewers Association
  • Member, Washington State Bar Association
  • Member, American Bar Association
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Insights & Presentations

Insights & Presentations

  • Co-author, “Attention Wine Shippers! California’s Bottle Bill Now Applies to Wine,” Stoel Rives LLP legal alert, January 29, 2024
  • Co-author, Washington chapter, Wine in America: Law and Policy, Richard Mendelson ed., Second Edition, 2023
  • Panelist, “Sponsorship Agreements,” NCSLA Central/Western Regional Conference, Portland, OR, September 2019
  • Contributor, “Legal Cocktail: What Attorneys Need to Know to Advise Clients in the Rapidly Evolving Alcohol Beverage Industry,” NW Lawyer, June 2019, Vol. 73, No. 5
  • Moderator, “Global Business Wednesday—Lawyering: Wine Law,” University of Washington School of Law, April 12, 2017
  • Presenter, “Developing a Responsible Alcohol Management Policy: What Works—What Doesn’t,” NALCP Annual Conference, Austin, TX, October 15, 2015
  • Program Co-Chair, “Wineries, Breweries and Distilleries: Practical Issues in the Alcohol Industry,” The Seminar Group, Seattle, WA, 2014
  • Panelist, “Why do you want to know who I am? Complex Ownership versus Licensing Requirements,” NCSLA Annual Conference, Honolulu, HI, 2013
  • Program Co-Chair, “I-502 Impacts on Business and Real Estate Transactions,” Law Seminars International, Seattle, WA, 2013
  • Chair, “Washington Wine, Beer and Distillers Law Seminar,” Stoel Rives LLP, Woodinville, WA, 2012
  • Speaker, “Legal issues: Contracts, PACA, Processor Liens and More,” Third Annual Wine Industry Financial Seminar, Kennewick, WA, December 1, 2010
  • Speaker, “Bonding Processes and Strategies,” Winery and Wine Distribution Law Conference, 2007, 2008
  • Author, “From Bacchus to Our House: Taxation of the Oregon Wine Industry under Current Twenty-First Amendment and Commerce Clause Jurisprudence,” 73 Or. L. Rev. 711, 1994

Related News & Publications

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