Michigan Governor Supports Direct Shipment of Wine

It is hard to ignore the movement across the country favoring the legalization of the direct shipment of wine. While the Supreme Court decision really didn’t clarify a great deal, it did spur many to act.

It looks as though a number of states are now or will be allowing direct shipment of wine including Texas, New York, Rhode Island, New Hampshire AND Michigan.

-That’s right, Michigan I believe will fall into the direct wine shipment column. I’ve talked to a few people in that state and what we know is that a great deal of pressure has been put on Governor Granholm to support some form of direct shipment of wine in the state. This pressure comes after the appointed Alcohol Commission chairwoman Nida Samona spoke up and said she would urge the Michigan legislature to ban all shipping. Since then she has backed away from that statement and has been extraordinarily quiet on the issue…no doubt she is doing as she is told at this point.

A bill has been written that would allow wineries to ship up to 24 cases annually to any individual in the state. The governor has said she would support a direct shipping bill.

-As more and more states move in the direct shipping direction they supply support for those in other states wishing to do the same and prove to be a difficulty for those in states arguing against direct shipping. This is why it is important when any state affirms the rights of consumers to buy wine direct.

-However, has anyone noticed how quiet the wholesalers have been? Nary a peep from the Wine & Spirit Wholesalers Association (WSWA) or the various fake organizations across the country. The silence isn’t a result of their belief the battle is over. They are in fact readying for battle. Duggan, the CEO of WSWA told Roll Call Magazine her organization expects, "to be far more active at the state level, because that’s where the debate is going to be now." I believe her.

What I expect from WSWA: 1) more stings. They are either in the process or preparing to use stings to prove that minors can obtain alcohol via the Internet. Expect a press conference in the next month in which a law officers explains how a minor was able to buy cheap wine or spirits via the Internet by lying to the person taking the order. 2) Focused Campaign Contributions. It’s likely Duggan & CO will pick their battles. They need a prominent state to ban shipping based on the fear that minors will have access to alcohol. Expect donations to be targeted to those states.

It is going to be important to set up a process that nearly insures that minors can’t get their hands on alcohol. One company in Florida, IDology, is showing off a system they’ve developed and put to use over at Wine.com that allows almost 100% accuracy in determining if the person ordering wine via the Net is in fact the person they say they are. Another system of this story has been developed by an entrepreneur/winemaker in Michigan. They will no doubt be put to use. And that’s a good thing.

The next six months will see a great deal of movement on the Direct shipping front. Much will turn on the perception of wine being an economic stimulus in states, on the pressure put on legislators by proponents and opponents of direct shipping, and on how legislators view the threat of minors being able to get their hands on alcohol.

Posted In: Shipping Wine


One Response

  1. Joel - June 7, 2005

    Hello Tom and others,
    Lots has changed here in Michigan in the couple of weeks since I last commented. I have it on very good authority that our Gov enjoys a glass of wine now and again, even from some of our better in-state producers.
    A fairly heavy-duty statewide group of wine consumers — yup, I’m one of ’em — has started a grass-roots consumers group to take on the distributor monopoly in the legislature. They’ve been threatening the Michigan winemakers that they’ll introduce their own bill if they can’t get a fast compromise on their terms, but we’re not biting. Some of us are ready to get up on the Capitol steps and read a list of every legislator who received a donation or a ‘sponsored’ campaign party from the distributors. It’s still an uphill fight for us — a Michigan Public Radio report last week noted that 8 of the 9 state reps on the Regulatory Reform Committee received donations from the distributor monopoly last year, averaging $4000 apiece. That kind of money goes a long way in a Michigan state rep district…
    Anyway, let me put in a plug for what our consumer group is up to — we’re at http://www.winecam.org — that’s Wine Consumers Across Michigan. In-state members and donations from anywhere are welcome and needed.
    And I agree with you — look for a highly-publicized sting in the next few weeks, probably against a Michigan winery, so they can go for the total direct-ship ban.
    Have a GOOD glass of wine tonight.

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