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The Threat to Your Wine Independence

In the last two weeks I've celebrated both Independence Day and Bastille Day. How, you may ask? Mostly by drinking a lot of wine. But that's beside the point. Around this time of year, I find myself thinking about the great liberties I enjoy as a wine lover in California and in the United States. In the process I inevitably consider the plight of those poor souls who have the unfortunate luck to have become wine lovers in states where their access to good booze comes only at the pleasure of a cartel made up of puritanical lawmakers and the lobbyists that have them in pocket. While it's possible to purchase weapons, deadly chemicals, ammunition, and child pornography on the internet and have it sent to your home everywhere in the United States, some people cannot legally order a bottle of wine.

As if this weren't bad enough, there's now a movement, even a congressional bill (H.R. 5034) that has as its singular goal, to make sure both that this situation never changes, but also that it can only become much worse for consumers over time.

I know, it sounds crazy, but the folks who profit from making the ordering of wine over the internet a crime are out to make sure that it stays that way. The National Beer and Wine Wholesalers organization has managed to lobby several Representatives to draft what almost every Alcohol trade organization in the country is the most anti-consumer piece of legislation they've ever seen.

I wrote about this bill when it first emerged from whatever backroom or cesspool that creates this kind of Congressional perfidy. Since then a wave of opposition to the bill has emerged in this country, and kindled the slightest bit of faith that the backbone exists to stand up to the prospect of having our lives run by those who can afford to pay politicians enough to create laws in their favor.

The bill itself has now been "held up" for a time, and no more hearings are going on about it due to a somewhat mysterious concern over a "constitutional issue" with the proposed legislation.

In the meantime, no doubt daunted by the overwhelming opposition from the public and the industry, the Wholesalers have created HR5034.Org, a web site worthy of the most heinous spin doctors in the industry.

But rather than take my word for the new heights of disinformation that this site offers, I suggest you listen to the guy who spends a lot of his time fighting the good fight for wine consumers everywhere.

Go read Tom Wark's article that demonstrates just how deceptive the Wholesalers are willing to be in order to make sure that their interests could never be subject to judicial review.

If you're an adult, legal consumer of any alcoholic beverage, and believe you should have the right to order it on the Internet no matter where you live, you should pay attention to this issue.

We value our freedom as Americans, in particular our freedom to make our lives better by changing laws when they are unjust. That freedom may soon be threatened.

Read more.

Comments (10)

07.16.10 at 11:05 AM

Hey Alder, I read Tom Wark's article yesterday and aside from the TEXTUAL SHOUTING ( I understand...he's been needing to bang this drum loudly), it was another direct and rational response to a patently deceptive tactic that the wholesalers have adopted.
Yes, I wrote my congressman, and he's said he would keep my concerns in mind should the bill come to consideration before congress, but VT only has one rep...
In general it is wine professionals, and interested, self-educating wine consumers who have spoken out against H.R.5034. My question is: How do we reach the greater proportion of wine consumers, who simply like to consume, and are not aware of the bill in process, or it's ramfications? My father enjoys the gift of a wine club subscription from my brother each year, but had no idea that it could be in jeapordy. I have to believe that most wine consumers fall into that cateory, and would voice their opinion if they knew the truth.

Alder Yarrow wrote:
07.16.10 at 11:54 AM

Thanks for the comments. Yeah, Wark needs to lay off the caps.

Dunno what to do to get this to the wider public, but if the bill ends up coming up for a vote, you can bet a lot of people will be trying.

07.16.10 at 12:06 PM

yeah I'm not sure either...short of wineries hanging informative neck tags on bottles shipped direct to consumers.

Heike wrote:
07.18.10 at 12:22 AM

This is interesting to read. I sure hope, this can be stopped. Living in Sweden for the last 7 yrs, where all alcoholic bev. are controlled by a monopoly, which gets all wines etc from a kartell-like limited number of big suppliers, I know what this means.... While many people here are believing, it IS a good thing, I have always felt this as a big limitation to my personal freedom. I simply hated the machinery around this and how a whole nation is literally beeing brain washed. While a few organisations are really profiting from this....
The official motto is to save us and our health. At the same time as there is no other European country selling 60% of wine in BiB -> 3 liters for real little money...
I really hope you can get more consumer awareness... can't you get Oprah or some other influential public person to take up this subject? Or maybe that is already happening...?

Good luck! Cheers

Steve Heineman wrote:
07.19.10 at 6:21 AM

Dear Alder,
You are mistaken when you state
"Weapons, Child Pornography, Dangerous Chemicals LEGALLY over the internet"???

Yes I am working for a Wholesaler but my family has been in the wine business for six generations and like my little old winemaker uncle always says, "If you opened up the laws (Ohio) for us to ship out of state (conversely) California would bury us in wine".

These laws are created by the exact same people whose businesses survive and flourish under them.

Screaming out obvious falsehoods to inflame the public is counter-productive. Tone down the retoric and see the truth. Supply and demand ( and there is alot of supply) has given wine-drinkers the lowest prices and best selection in years. Giant wholesalers are gobbling up smaller ones but new wholesalers are opening to serve the niche.

Why not join the industry in creating the laws instead for screaming inane comments from the sidelines?

Alder Yarrow wrote:
07.19.10 at 9:11 AM


Thanks for taking the time to comment.

I am not mistaken, and about 30 seconds of googling will show you that it's pretty easy to buy a powerful crossbow with razor blade tips and sulfuric acid, for instance, over the internet.

Protectionism and state-run monopolies run completely against the principles of supply and demand that you suggest can and have done good for the consumer.

"Join the industry in creating the laws?" You've got to be kidding me. The industry shouldn't be creating the laws in the first place.

Doug Schulman wrote:
07.22.10 at 8:26 AM

Unfortunately, I don't think a wider public audience would care about this bill as it does not directly or immediately affect most wine drinkers. Very few of us (percentagewise) order wine directly from wineries or retailers in other states. For those who don't, I don't think there will be much, if any, impact.

That brings me to the second point: Steve, I find your comments ridiculous. There's no way allowing wine shipments would put already successful Ohio (or any other state) wineries out of business. If that were true, the sea of wine already available from CA would have done so, especially since folks can buy that without paying for shipping. Your words are the "falsehoods" and "rhetoric". Plus, I find it completely unreasonable that the wholesalers are the ones who have written and continue to write the alcohol laws, as you have pointed out.

Troy Truchon wrote:
07.30.10 at 11:56 PM


So rather than producing a Better product than California your uncle would instead see regulations limiting consumer choice keep him in business? Don't get me wrong, as a Californian who values our states wines above all others I am enjoying the implied compliment.

Troy Truchon wrote:
07.31.10 at 4:38 PM

Silly typo, the latter was targeted at Steve Heineman, not mister Alder.

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