IT STANDS TO REASON|
As much as The Wine Curmudgeon bitches and bellyaches, he always
manages to find a good news item for openers. And this issue's good news
could be the best and most important news on the interstate shipping front
since TWC came up with the idea for reciprocity. (And TWC isn't being
facetious about inventing reciprocity...he really, really did and will
be glad to tell you about it someday.)
It appears the state of Louisiana
will be the first to pass legislation (other than reciprocity legislation)
that will specifically permit out-of-state wholesalers, retailers and
wineries to ship up to sixty bottles direct to consumers, after registering
with the the state, paying an annual $100 fee and paying, also on an annual
basis, any sales and excise taxes that the state of Louisiana would have
collected had the sale taken place there.
In reading the wording of
the proposed legislation, it appears to apply equally to purveyors of wine,
beer and even spirits. While credit for the concept is probably due to the
Coalition for Free Trade in Licensed Beverages and Family Winemakers of
California, credit for lobbying this one through and negotiating the final
draft working with Louisiana legislators and wholesalers should go to the
folks at Wine Institute.
Interestingly, this is quite similar to the
legislation proposed by the Attorney General of Florida, which it's greedy
wholesale monopoly lobbied against while sponsoring and passing its own
legislation making such shipping a felony. More about the bad boys of
The Louisiana law, if it's passed, could and should
become a model for other states, because it satisfies all the state's
interests. It collects the taxes, requires "Adult Signature" shipments
thereby protecting the youth of America from "Demon Rum" and verifies
that the shippers are appropriately licensed beverage dealers.
for Louisiana for not behaving like its redneck southern neighbors. And
hooray! for Wine Institute for a very good and important piece of work.
This might even help them get back some of the members they've lost in
PARKER SEEING DOUBLE
There's a story circulating,
which may well be apocryphal, but which I found amusing whether exactly
true or not.
Anyone reading a wine magazine is no doubt aware that
one Robert M. Parker, Jr. and his publication The Wine Advocate has
considerable power and is often quoted on shelf-talkers and in
advertisements as a way to promote and sell wine.
story goes that Robert M. Parker, Jr. found himself in a medium-sized,
rather nice, wine shop in the midwest, and was at first pleased to see
how widely his name was used (free publicity after all) throughout the
store. It seemed like every other wine had a note beneath it with a brief
description, followed by "Robert Parker 92" or "Robert Parker 88" or
The problem is that Robert M. Parker, Jr. soon discovered
that the words didn't sound exactly like his and that he didn't recall
having even tasted some of the wines, much less having reviewed them.
This was a problem he had encountered before where greedy retailers were
So he approached what appeared to be the manager or proprietor,
and without revealing who he was, declared, "I subscribe to The Wine
Advocate and read almost everything Robert Parker has ever written, and I
don't think he has reviewed some of the wines on your shelves. What do you
have to say to that?"
And the fellow replied, "Well, first let me
introduce myself, I own this shop and my name is Robert Parker.
BOXER BEING BAD...AND WE'RE NOT TALKINGTYSON
How long has TWC
been warning you about what the "drys" are really up to? And how many of
you have poo-poo'ed TWC's theories...some to my face...some behind my
back...and some to yourselves in your living rooms?
When I warn you
that their small moves toward ever tighter restrictions on wine, beer
and spirits are really a conspiracy to return us to Prohibition, or
something close to it...you write me off as a radical, don't you? You
say things like, "That could never happen in our modern society." Or,
"We would never stand for that again...too many of us enjoy the beverages
to let it happen."
Ditto when I warn you that MADD, DARE, SADD,
CSPI and other anti-alcohol groups are no longer fighting abuse and
drunk driving, but have really become "zero tolerance" advocates...which
is as close to neo-Prohibitionism as you're going to get.
majority of states passed (responding to federal blackmail threatening
to cut off highway funds if they didn't) "zero tolerance" laws affecting
minors, many of you said things like, "Well, teens shouldn't be drinking
anyhow, and it doesn't affect me, and they aren't trying to do it to
Oh, no?! Please don't forget that every minor isn't a 16
year old beer guzzler in a hot rod. That "minor" could be an otherwise
legal adult of 20 who is married with children and paying the same taxes
as you and me. And please remember that I warned you that what they did
to the "under 21s" today they'll try to do to you tomorrow.
you think TWC is still being paranoid and a prophet of doom and gloom...
At a Senate Transportation Subcommittee hearing the
national president of MADD testified in behalf of once again using the
threat of cutting off federal highway funds as a way to blackmail states
into passing a mandatory lowering of permissible blood alcohol levels in
drivers to .08. She went on to speak in favor of both even lower BACs and
eventual "zero tolerance." You'll note that MADD's propaganda no longer
talks about drunks...it now talks about "drinking" as the activity to
be banned...not excessive drinking.
Someone else spoke out for
"zero tolerance" at these hearings...someone from California...someone
from "the" wine state.
Senator Barbara Boxer (another Democrat)
testified using the following words: "I frankly think when we look
back, in maybe 20 years when it (the BAC level) is down lower than .08%,
we may end up in this country going to zero tolerance, period."
"Zero tolerance, period" is a term right out of the MADD propaganda
handbook, so we know where she got the term. But why it's coming from
the lips of a California senator who is supposed to be a friend to wine
and should be better informed regarding the flawed statistics supporting
.08 legislation, is hard to figure.
This is a "Boxer" that needs
to be chewed on a little by constituents (and we ain't talking ears
here)...and failing that voted out of office next time around.
hard to figure, but Barbara Boxer must be added to the list of enemies
of wine, beer and spirits. She has painted herself, by her own words,
as an anti-alcohol fanatic.
MADD, with its campaign
for lowering permissible b.a.c.s for drivers to .08 (which is really
just a step towards "zero tolerance," which has also been admitted),
has for years made it sound like one would have to drink a lot in a very
short time to reach that .08 level, and that supporting it should not
impact on moderate, responsible drinkers.
Well, according to
research conducted by the American Beverage Institute, and using the
same U.S. Department of Transportation statistics as the MADD mothers,
MADD has at least exaggerated and very possibly outright lied.
Here's the truth: A 120 pound female who has two 6 oz. glasses of a
typical California table wine in a two hour period (that's only one
glass every hour!), would be at the .08 level advocated by MADD and
thereby "legally" drunk.
So beware, girlfriend. Thanks to MADD
(and other anti-alcohol fanatics), you can lose your driver's license,
pay huge fines, be convicted of a felony in some states, do actual jail
time and almost certainly have to pay for classes in "alcohol abuse," all
because you had two glasses of Chardonnay.
And fellas, it don't take
much more for you to become a "legal" drunk, even though you won't be
feeling a thing or showing any signs of impairment.
If your state
doesn't already have .08, it probably will soon if MADD has its way.
And if your state does have .08, they'll be declaring you a felon and
a drunk driver soon, at .06 or .04, on the way to MADD's goal of "zero
tolerance." Then you'll be a legal drunk with all the attendant penalties
after a single glass of wine or beer.
And if they can't convince your
state legislators, they'll simply go off to Washington and use federal
blackmail (usually a threat to cut off highway funds) to mandate the
lower b.a.c.s. That's how they made 21 the mandatory drinking age
(even though many states resisted) and how they just passed "zero
tolerance for 18, 19 and 20 year old adults. You'll be next unless you
do something about it.
One thing you can do is stop giving money to
MADD, SADD, DARE, CSPI and any organization that compares wine, beer
and spirits to street narcotics by using the term "alcohol and other
drugs." And also refuse to donate to community chest type organizations
who share their funds with these enemies of wine and freedom.
Florida is not the first state to pass
legislation making the shipping of wine direct to consumers from out
of state a felony, but the way it was passed in Florida makes it an
example of the lowest kind of sleazy, legislation to the highest bidder,
forget what's right, and as the man said in the film Jerry Maguire...
"Show me the money."
It's also a sad example of political cronyism
when the governor of the state failed to veto such special interest
legislation after being advised to do so, on several grounds, by the
top law man in the state, Attorney General Robert A. Butterworth.
(See a copy of Butterworth's letter to Governor Lawton Chiles on page 16)
Florida had already lost a legal action related to interstate shipping in
federal court, and was facing a counter suit from the pro-active Coalition
for Free Trade in Licensed Beverages. Butterworth asked CFT to postpone its
action because he was preparing proposed legislation to make the entire
As previously suggested by CFT, the bill would
presumably respond to all the states interests in the issue...tax
collection, legal sales by licensed dealers and preventing sales to
minors. The legislation would have provided for registration of out
of state dealers along with the payment of a reasonable licensing fee,
a system whereby excise and sales taxes could be paid to the state of
Florida (most states complain that the problem with interstate shipping
is that the state loses taxes, but none provide a method for those taxes
to be paid) and a requirement for adult signatures on delivery.
of embracing this reasonable program that answered all the state's
interests regarding the sales of wine, along with with satisfying the
needs of consumers to seek products otherwise unavailable in Florida,
permitting small farm wineries a way to reach consumers and in general
doing things the American, free-enterprise way, Florida's legislature
yielded to a handful of greedy wholesaler monopolists known for their
large contributions to reelection campaigns and passed legislation making
such shipments a felony. In an act of obvious political cronyism Governor
Chiles permitted it to become law.
There will be retribution as well as
legal action from CFT and possibly others. The folks who worked so hard to
maintain their monopoly may have just signed its death warrant by forcing
the hand of the consumers and small producers affected by the restrictions.
There's a very good chance that when this works its way through the courts
that the so-called 3-tier systems (really a 3-tier monopoly) will be
ZAP (Zinfandel Advocates & Producers) has already rerouted its
annual tasting tour out of the Southeast, and we understand a number
of Florida based wine festivals and charity events are being boycotted,
partially out of fear of accidentally becoming felons and partially as
retribution for being in a state unfriendly to wine.
Talk of boycotts
of citrus and other things to do with Florida are still under
consideration and the California Legislature recently censured their
Florida colleagues for their anti-wine legislation.
There is still
time to undo what has been done in Florida, and the wholesalers who
are pulling the strings should wake up and do it before it's done for
them by the judiciary.
BOYCOTT BAD GUYS, NOT GOOD
One of the fallouts of the passing of
felony laws banning shipments into Florida, Kentucky, Georgia and
Tennessee, is a great debate regarding boycotts of various and sundry
industries that those states are famous for, including Bourbon in Kentucky,
citrus from Florida, peaches from Georgia (and Turner Broadcasting and
Atlanta's sports teams) and the blues from Memphis (that last one really
Another camp advocates boycotting ALL events in those states
(and others engaging even in stings against wine shippers), by refusing to
support/attend wine festivals, competitions, charity events and the
like...and letting the organizers know why. And that seems fair because
in many instances, the organizers of these events did not stand up for
wine in their legislatures when the wholesale monopolists were having
their way against free enterprise. So the arguments that "if you aren't
part of the solution you're part of the problem" and "if you aren't
wine's friend, you're its enemy" make some sense.
Hurt some of these charities and festivals that have been making
tens, even hundreds of thousands of dollars off of the support and
donations in product and presence of the wine industry, and maybe
they'll take the time to make their politicians take notice...maybe
the politicians will change their tune if they hear from someone
other than the fat cat wholesalers who contribute so much money to
So I endorse and support all such actions
which will bring the legislators of the bad states to their
senses...with at least one exception.
That exception is The
Atlanta Wine Summit International Wine Competition, organized and
administered by one Bruce Galphin. Now before some cynic argues that
I'm making an exception for a friend (he is one of longstanding, but
more importantly, he's a friend of wine for even longer) and advertiser
(his one or two small ads a year can't buy TWC, honest), let me explain
No one fought the bad guys in Georgia more than Bruce Galphin.
He was a source for information for all those in the trade and out who
were fighting the legislation, and allowed me to publish his name as a
contact both on the Internet and in such national publications as The
Wine Trader and in my column in The Wine Enthusiast. He stirred the pot,
was directly responsible for supplying the information to the few
journalists who did cover the story in local media and actually
ghost-wrote one such story (which I wasn't supposed to tell, and he
wouldn't admit, but I could tell from the writing)...and wrote his own
letters not only to members of the legislature but to the governor
himself, and old acquaintance of Galphin's from his days as a political
So the idea of boycotting The Atlanta Wine Summit, the work
for which is responsible for a goodly portion of this friend of wine's
annual income, thereby denying him his livelihood, is the moral equivalent
of shooting a civil rights leader who happens to live in the south
because you're opposed to discrimination.
has adopted a suggestion that he utilize The Summit as a forum for
enlisting support to overturn the felony legislation in the very
next session, and perhaps to collect signatures on petitions and/or
raise moneys for organizations seeking to overturn the law on legals
So, TWC says, boycott away... against peaches, citrus, even
Memphis soul sounds...but leave my buddy Bruce Galphin and The Atlanta
Wine Summit out of it
The Wine Curmudgeon
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Latest Update: October 31, 1997