Updated: Direct Wine Shipping Bill reintroduced H.R.1161

“America’s regulated three-tier system is – hands down – the best beverage alcohol distribution system in the world,” WSWA chief executive Craig Wolf said in the statement. “It stimulates innovation and competition and provides consumers with unprecedented choice and variety, requiring reasonable and appropriate regulations promoting temperance, ensuring effective state and federal tax collection and creating a safe and orderly market distributing beverage alcohol.”

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Quote fixed.


Hopefully that California congressman and whatever friends he has will be able to win out, but money talks, so it won’t surprise me to see the bill pass. I met Craig Wolf a couple of years ago at a hearing in Sacramento. The guy is a first class snake. Why the media insists on focusing on the corruption in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, instead of looking right here in their own backyards, I have no idea.

Congress, backed by the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America also knowk as WSWA, are seeking to enact laws stopping people who wish to obtain wines from merchants, not located in the state where they live.

Conact your senators, congress people, attorney generals and other public officials that rely on your votes to remain in office and demand the ability to continue buying wines from the stores of your choice, from any state you chose!

While this story is all over the Internet, Posner sent out a strong Email telling everyone about the issue earlier this morning.

http://www.winespectator.com/webfeature/show?id=42526" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

http://www.winebusiness.com/news/?g...le&dataid=73243" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Can’t we have some sort of rebellion or something and start a Wine-Party Movement?

The bill is actually written by the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA).
I presume the distinction between them and the WSWA is the difference between cow turds and bull turds.

This seems highly unlikely to pass - it’s also odd that no real legitimate, arguable reason is given for doing so in the first place.

Dupe thread:

http://www.wineberserkers.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=20858" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

No doubt the reason is that there isn’t any. Just somebody doing a favor.

The big question to me is what happens if it does pass. The Sup. Ct. has already ruled that the 21st amendment does not trump the commerce clause and does not allow states to violate the commerce clause by discriminating. This ruling was based on constitutional grounds, not statutory. So I don’t see how a law passed by Congress can alter the constitutional interpretation by the court, regardless of any statements of congressional intent. Of course, I haven’t read the bill, so maybe they have devised some ingenious way to have statutes trum the constitution.

Any constitutional scolars care to weigh in?

Here was my letter:

Congressman McCaul,

I am writing you about H. R. 5034. As an avid wine drinker, I am very concerned about provisions outlined in this bill. I am a staunch supporter of our Texas wineries but I also like many wines produced in California. My favorite wine is pinot noir, a varietal that is essentially non-existant in Texas since it prefers cooler growing conditions. Many of my favorites are only available from small producers (less than 3000 cases) who are not available in Texas by the choice of distributors, not the choice of the wineries.

Provisions in H. R. 5034 would essentially eliminate my access to those wines. The only way I would be able to bring these wines back to Texas to enjoy would be to travel to California and drive them back to Texas myself since I would not be able to even ship them to my home.

Why? Because distributors want to protect their own business. I like to drink pinot noir priced about $40 a bottle. That bottle’s wholesale cost is roughly $20. The distributor want his $10. That in itself doesn’t bother me. It’s the tactics and justification used that really make me upset by this legislation.

There is no doubt that this resolution is largely written and sponsored by distribution lobbyists. As someone who has worked in Texas helping craft legislation regarding education policy, I understand how this process works and this is clearly written by someone “in the business” rather than by a legislator. The two parts that make it obvious are as follows:

  1. There are provisions that all but eliminate legal recourse if this passes. Could this be more obvious? Write a piece of legislation that gives your side what they want and at the same time makes it impossible for the other side to fight back. My eight year old son ( who asked me what I was doing writing you) understood how wrong this was when I substituted Lego, Lego Club and Target for Wine, WInery and distributor. My second grader may be smart, but it is pretty bad when he can see how this legislation is flawed.

  2. The tactic of getting the legislation passed under the guise of “minor’s access to alcohol.” Let me phrase it this way - can the sponsors of this bill give you an example of a 17-year old in your congressional district mail-ordering a bottle of $40 California pinot noir so he can get drunk on a Saturday night? Phrased that way, it sounds pretty preposterous doesn’t it. However, that is essentially the basic reason that the bill’s author’s want you to vote for this repressive legislation. I’ll make you a deal. For every documented case of underage purchases of alcohol made though the mail (that were not made by members of distributor’s families) that you can document in your district prior to the day that legislation was filed, I will give you a bottle of that $40 pinot that I will no longer be able to purchase if this legislation passes. I figure at the most, I’ll be out a single bottle. I would guess that there will be more “minor in possession” citations issued around the Texas A&M campus tonight than there are instances of minors mail-ordering alcohol across the entire United States in 2010. It is simply a thinly veiled scare tactic that belongs with unicorns, Bigfoot and the grassy knoll.

I urge you to give this bill a resounding NO vote if it sees a vote. As a conservative, this is exactly the type of unnecessary governmental intrusion and special interest legislation you campaigned against. Please stay true to your philosophy and vote no on this legislation.

Monte Mast

Nice letter, Monte.

I think you should email it to your wine buddies (if you haven’t already) and they can reproduce it…

I’m really surprised there hasn’t been more discussion here on this. Maybe everyone doesn’t realize the severity and consequences if & when this passes. The impact it will have on businesses will be devastating. How many mailers, wine clubs, retail mailing lists,futures purchases are you involved with? All of this will go away.
The money behind this is/will be the same that has fought to keep shipping out of various states. It is taking us so far backwards . All the work to make states reciprocal will be for not. We have trade agreements with several countries around the world but don’t have the same freedom within our own to ship state to state. It’s a sad situation. You may think “I am 1 person & can’t make a difference” but believe me you can. This is the time to stand up and make some noise, tell your friends and write your representatives instead of in the end thinking, WTF how am I going to get my wine now!

After reviewing this BS, it dawns on me why the Mass. AG did not file an appeal to the Supreme Court, when it ruled Mass. law on wine shipping into their state is interference of interstate commerce. The AG there knows the sheep will let this law pass and they will again be able to stop shipments into their state.

The timing couldn’t be better on this either. The Cali wineries have been hit hard by the recession and can’t band together and retaliate by refusing to sell their wines to the distributors pushing this law. (I guess that would be akin to a tea party and get this pushed to politics). This law will cut into the mailing list sales of those wineries who rely on them.

Guess what? If this passes, all of us here in California will get reduce price, increased allocations of Harlan, Bryant, Colgin, Kistler, Kosta Browne, Maybach, Scarecrow, SINE QUA NON, Screaming Eagle, Marcassin, Aubert, Schrader, Carlisle, Saxum, Alban etc., and you outworlders will get nada. neener neener

Maybe it won’t be so bad after all.

The chance that this passes is very small. Most new bills presented never make it out of committee, much less to a floor vote. Then, it would have to get through the senate. This bill has so many implications, all of which having a negative impact on anyone but the wholesalers, that it would very difficult to pass both houses. I certainly could be wrong, but I don’t think so in this case.

Welcome to WB
The issue is both the Wine & Beer Wholesalers of America have so much money to throw behind this, of course the ironic part is each of us have helped put the money in their trough to back this. It a frightening situation to think we could be looking at this being a possibility.

Thanks Carrie,

While anything is possible, and I know the wholesalers have big money, It still appears to be a STEEP uphill climb to get this passed. My question is why haven’t they attempted to get a bill like this passed before? This is an act of desperation. The whole concept of this bill is full of political and legal landmines, and could have huge(horrible) implications for interstate commerce in general. I really don’t know, (despite my feelings about our elected officials in general) how our elected officials would take us down such a slippery slope on THIS particular matter.

You are correct Kevin. There’s nothing about it that makes sense. This would be devastating for many businesses but that doesn’t seem to be a consideration for the boneheads behind this.

The boneheads behind this are trying to put anyone who won’t deal with them directly(and solely) out of business. Just because they got 4 elected officials to sponser this stupidity doesn’t mean it’s a slam dunk it will go any farther than it has. I still think this dies. Most bills written and sponsered(even those that have powerful lobbyists) never become law.

Saw this story the other day and again this morning.

Because of the huge power wielded by the wholesalers lobby this kind of thing is almost always aimed at the wineries. It’s interesting that the distributors don’t seem to care as much about wine shipped by retailers. Most legislation and lawsuit activity seems to be at the winery level. You’d think it’s because they’ve already taken their cut on wine most sold into retail. :astonished:) All it takes is something like this and not only wineries, but every online wine retailer could be put out of business or, at best, buried in complex and expensive licensing and tax regulations.

It’s also frustrating that these campaigns usually raise the issue of direct-to-consumer wine sales risking sale to minors. Every online retailer and customer knows that UPS and FedEx charge an extra fee for a direct over-21 signature. I’ve never understood how that is any different from a retailer checking ID over the counter. Very disingenuous, if you ask me.