I see no threads, too many wines perhaps? - Printable Version

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- Mr. Ross - 02-12-2006 05:51 PM

The title piqued my interest as I like the civil discussion of ideas however I found the topic threads either missing or never started.

- hotwine - 02-12-2006 06:30 PM

For the last few years, that's been a place for us to post gripes about the 3-tiered system, legislative hurdles to distribution, that sort of thing. A few of the states have actually improved free trade in the last year or so, so there's not been as much griping as was seen earlier.

- Thomas - 02-12-2006 08:27 PM

You want a gripe Hotwine, here it is:

Unhappy with the Supreme Court's decision last spring, the nation's wholesalers have developed a new tactic. They have unleashed their lobbyists. How else to explain that by some strange coincidence about half a dozen states are arguing over nearly identical legislation that would place into cement the concept that all wine producers MUST ship wines to retailers and restaurants by way of distributor warehouses.

In many states, small wineries can act as their own distributors, since in many states distributors are uninterested in samll wineries. But the wholesalers want the government to guarantee that wineries of any size will distribute only through them.

If the wholeaslers win, it is only a step away from subverting the Supreme Court's decision by getting states not to ban shipping to consumers, but to ensure that all wineries must ship the wine first to a distributor's warehouse and then to the consumer--for a mark up of course.

You want a gripe--there it is. Consumers need to let legislators know that we are on to the virulent microbes called lobbyists who are bringing the message (and maybe some cash?) to state capitols.


[This message has been edited by foodie (edited 02-12-2006).]

- Mr. Ross - 02-12-2006 08:34 PM

Well...didn't really want a gripe but I certainly got a good one!

- TheEngineer - 02-13-2006 06:30 PM

I know that this must seem extremely naive, but with the supreme court ruling, it effectively gives the states the last say, but in the interest of interest commerce, doesn't all states have to treat each other the same? I suspect that there is something that suggests that interstate trade should be simplier than international trade and if not, it will be taken down, or else taken to the extreme, what is the US really?

Then, are there no controls over oligopolistic setups? This certainly sounds like it. Large number of producers controlled by a small number of middlemen who control almost all of the distribution. Ingress to industry has extremely high barriers to entry and controlling group can control prices at will?

- Thomas - 02-13-2006 08:14 PM


At the risk of this becoming too lengthy, the Supreme Court has over the decades consistently decided to allow the states leeway because, as justice Kennedy even said when the court issued the shipping ruling, alcohol is a special product that does not deserve the same constitutional protections as other products--even guns.

The wholesalers know full well how much power that gives them. Their latest move is designed to weaken the Supreme Court's decision to leave it standing but ineffective, because nothing in that decision precludes states from banning all shipping--it only forces states to treat all wineries throughout the country alike.

[This message has been edited by foodie (edited 02-13-2006).]

- brappy - 02-14-2006 02:06 AM

In every man terms, the whole thing sucks!

Just to throw in a loaded question, What will it take for us, the wine consumer, to win?

Sorry, but had to ask.

And, I don't know if the distributers are trying to WEAKEN the decision as much as USE the decision AGAINST the supreme court or ultimately the wineries.


- Kcwhippet - 02-14-2006 06:15 AM

To win, Mark, you have to be more vocal than the WSWA. Of course, their vocalization is in the form of monetary support to various members of state legislatires. Join Free the Grapes ( it's free. They have form letters you can modify to your specific needs and the addresses (email and snail mail) for all your local legislators. If the lawmakers get enough feedback from the people buying the wine telling them they're going to be out of a job next election day if they cave to the WSWA, they just might see it our way. The key is a lot of feedback. I've been sending so much stuff supporting consumer shipping to the MA lawmakers for so long that I've received Christmas cards from a few of them. Tell all your friends. Inundate them. Deluge them. Send emails, faxes, snail mail.

- winoweenie - 02-14-2006 07:49 AM

Sencond in spades KCs' advice. I've been an active member of FTGs for 10 years and we finally got the necessary legislation here in Az to allow shipping. WW

- Thomas - 02-14-2006 08:31 AM


Winning means that the Supreme Court needs to rule against the 21st Amendment that gave the states the right to regulate alcohol and to establish a monopolistic distribution system. That part of the amendment is in direct conflict with the Commerce Clause under which all other national commerce is governed.

Other than that, the battle is endless.

[This message has been edited by foodie (edited 02-14-2006).]

- shewelch - 02-14-2006 01:54 PM

Here is North Carolina we just "popped the cap" now I guess I need to go help "free the grapes" too!

I would be very upset if I couldn't get my wine club orders direct!

- brappy - 02-15-2006 01:53 AM

I have sent my first letter and will continue to do this. I have a tasting group that has now reached approx. 25 ppl. This will be a big topic at our next tasting. Thanks to all for your answers and instruction. This is now a personal crusade.

Thanks again, mark