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Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Direct Wine Shipments to Massachusetts are legal, for now.

Ramon Soto in Senator Morrissey's office just called to give me an update on legislation to allow direct shipment of wine to Massachusetts.

The committee trying to get out a bill soon. The bill goes to the House for approval and then on to the Senate.

I'm getting an education here on how government works.

After the Supreme Court decision, direct ship is now possible. Current laws prohibiting it have been nullified. [ See Wine Spectator ]

But the government feels the need to put legislation in because we are dealing with an alcoholic substance.

They are in process of figuring this out.

Lawmakers are working on a compromise.

This compromise will allow for small wineries to direct ship, but not other larger wineries.

Lawmakers are trying to say if it's already available in stores they can't ship, while making it possible for direct ship from wine makers that have no presence in Massachusetts stores.

Right now the legislation would only allow any small winery, which produces below 30,000 gallons annually, to direct ship to Masssachusetts.

They are thinking that this gives the smaller guys a shot to send direct.

Ramon told me that discriminating between small and big like this has a precedent because it prevents the big companies to monopolize.

I'm not sure how this restriction will hold up against the Supreme Court ruling. I'd think you'd want to give equal access to all.

At least there seems to be some movement by the legislature on this bill.

I've got to do some more research, including determining the per year gallon production, of some of the wineries that are not distributed to Massachusetts right now.

It's be better for everyone if this 30,000 gallon restriction is dropped from the bill since it also seems like a disincentive for them to grow big because when they hit 30,000 gallons per year production they wouldn't be able to ship to Massachusetts anymore.

The more I think about it, the 30,000 gallon restriction will create a lot of 'red tape'. Let's open the state up to direct shipments for everyone.

I don't think that the big wine distributers are afraid of a little competition. Are they?

Who would be in favor of restricting direct access to wine from major manufacturers?

Right now, wine goes from manufacturer, to distributor, to retail, to customer. With direct shipment of wine from manufacturer to consumer, who looses out?

The distributors and the retailers.

Hmm. I wonder how they feel about direct shipment of wine to residents of Masachusetts?

It's a free market the last time I checked. Let's keep government out it.

Direct shipments of wine for all.

Comments appreciated.

Cheers!

3 comments:

  1. At least there's some progress.
    As far as the "small winery only" proposal, I guess that seems fair. Most of the time if you want to have something shipped in from out of state, it's because it isn't readily available. Usually those are the small companies.
    I love a beer called Flying Dog based out of Colorado. They won't ship to New Jersey because of stupid state laws. They told me to drive to Philly. I told them I don't have a car.

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  2. Anonymous3:34 PM

    Thanks for taking the time to post updates on this issue. I've contacted my state reps and some of those who have sponsored direct shipping bills in the past, but haven't had much luck in finding out what's happening currently.

    Regarding the 30000 gallon limit, I don't have a problem with reasonable restrictions generally, but question how easy it would be to implement in practice. Also, it seems unfair in certain ways, e.g., what if the wines of a 40000 gallon/year winery aren't available in the state at all? Or what if a winery makes over 30000 gallons of cheap, widely available wines, but also small production runs of wines that aren't available in state? Also, 30000 gallons is only about 12,600 cases, which is a fairly small amount. It seems other types of restrictions would be more appropriate, e.g., each winery can only ship so many cases to a person each year.

    John
    Belchertown

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  3. Thanks for writing John.

    I share your frustration in getting answers on the status of this legislation.

    As time passes, and I think more about this issue, restrictions based on quantity of wine produced aren't fair.

    It seems like restraint of trade to me.

    I'm leaning towards free and open shipments into the state for anyone.

    I think less government is better government.

    Wouldn't it just be simpler that way?

    Plus, I think the wines that I personally want to have shipped into the state would be ineligible under the 30,000 gallon limit.

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