Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Wine Law Update

A large glass of red wine contains about three...Image via Wikipedia With favorable and reversed court rulings, the wine shipping laws have degenerated into a real mess. Not that they weren't a mess before. And, with the legislative session starting, lobbyists, distributors, and legislators have already started marking territory over the issue. Jeff over at The Good Grape offers a re-cap from Ole Olson on the latest hearing with testimony from distributors, lobbyists and VinSense, a group representing consumers in favor of direct shipping laws. Olson, venerable expert at The Story Inn, has long been an advocate for the group fighting to bring our wine consumer laws into the 21st century. (He also blogs at Hoosier Wine Cellar.)

As it stands, if you want wine shipped to you directly, you must appear in person at the winery (no matter its location to presumably have your ID checked) plus the winery must obtain a permit from the State of Indiana. Most don't bother so even if you're there, they can't/won't ship to Indiana. Most wine collectors have found work-arounds, but even so, executives and lobbyists with major distributors think you have enough selection as it is. They cite 100s of brands and labels crowding shelves thinking we Hoosiers should be satisfied with what they give us. Legislators cite worries that shipping changes will open the door to out-of-state superstores stealing business from local companies. (I call that an incentive to keep prices in line!)

Still, VinSense continues to fight. What can you do to help? Read the VinSense proposal for consumer direct shipping and register your support. From Ole:

The working draft of the VinSense legislation is titled “Direct Wine Sales Proposal,” and readers are invited to write committee members to support that proposal at this address: Chair, Interim Study Committee on Alcoholic Beverages, Legislative Services Agency, 200 West Washington Street – Suite 301, Indianapolis, IN 46204.

To provide additional information on the direct sales issue, VinSense has posted a detailed Primer on Direct Wine Sales on its website: http://www.vinsense.org/.

It’s finally fair to say that the idea of direct wine sales has got the attention of key legislators, and that it’s now up to all of us consumers to get our elected officials behind the VinSense initiative. Call or write to your own legislators referencing the VinSense proposal sent to the committee. VinSense also plans to send a copy to every legislator.


J. Silverheels Gray said...

Indiana had arrived at a workable arrangement until the 7th District Court of Appeals reinstated the face-to-face provision this past August.

A simple, short-term solution would be for the legislature to strike the face-to-face provision and replace it with some other method of age verification.

Jennifer said...

You think you guys have it bad--brewpubs in Texas can't distribute their brews! Behind every piece of prohibition, there's an alcoholic lobbyist.

CorrND said...

Brew pubs are generally defined by not distributing beer. A brew pub is an entity that brews beer on premises for sale on premises. If they distribute, they're generally called a brewery.

braingirl said...

So how is that seemingly different than Brugge distributing it's own beer? Sure, they have to go to a brewery, a commerial production facility to do it, but it's still Brugge branded beer. It's still a brew pub that wanted to and now distributes its own beer, right?

Ole Olson said...

Bless you, Braingirl. We now believe we have some champions in the General Assembly who will see that our bill gets assigned and heard. I'll keep you informed.

Ole Olson

schoolboardgreg said...

My wife and I recently visited the Canadian wine area near Niagara-on-the-Lake. We were told by bottlers that they could ship directly to consumers in Indiana.

CorrND said...

I don't know if there's a simple, cut and dried answer regarding breweries/brew pubs. I just looked around and I think that in some sense this is just semantics and the rules may vary from state to state.

According to Jennifer's comment, I'd guess TX just requires an entity that wants to distribute to be legally registered as something other than a brewpub (perhaps they call it a brewery). Clearly you can distribute beer in TX, as we have Spoetzl here.

As for Brugge, I'm pretty sure they operate as two entities:

Brugge Brasserie is a brew pub that originally brewed all their beer on premises. They still brew there on a more limited basis.

When they wanted to start distributing their beer, they formed Brugge Beer, a brewery that brews beer for distribution.