Anti-Wine Groups Start PR Effort in Michigan

It appears that the foes of the consumer and foes of the small winery are beginning pull out their guns in the battle over direct shipping in Michigan.

As I’ve reported here before, the Michigan Wine & Spirit Wholesalers Association wrote a bill (isn’t that the legislature’s job) that would ban all direct shippment of wine in Michigan and found a legislator in the Michigan House to introduce it. Yet, up to now the anti-consumer wholesalers had not launched any significant effort to support the bill through PR efforts. That silence has ended.

Most recently Executive Director of the Wholesalers Association Mike Lashbrook made a false claim in to the media that 10% of Minors nationwide are getting alcohol via the Internet. That claim has been debunked here in an earlier post on Fermentations.

Yesterday, the "Coalition for a Safe and Responsible Michigan", a front organization for the wine wholesalers, announced that they had organized a sting against Internet wine sellers in which seven boxes of alcohol were shipped to a 20 year old intern working for the "Coalitiion".

We have to assume that this new strategy of trying to convince legislators that wine is regularly shipped to minors comes in the wake of significant disapproval in the media of what appears to be vote buying in the Michigan legislature on behalf of the donation-crazy Michigan wine wholesales whose goal is, appartently, to call in it’s markers with legislators in support of killing Michigan wineries’ ability to make a living selling wine.

Though the point hardly needs to be made, it will be here. Well over 99% of all alchol that lands up in the hands of minors, goes down their throats and plays a role in their deaths through auto accidents is goes through the hands of the wholesalers. The vast majority of these sales go though brick and mortor stores that have no use for the Internet. However, the wholesalers would argue that Internet sales need to be outlawed altogether. Wouldn’t the more logical step, if you are concerned about alcohol sales to minors, to ban sales from those outlets that are putting most of the alcohol in the hands of minors?

Reason does not play a large roll in this debate currently raging in Michigan. It’s about Money.

Currently there are other bills awaiting hearing in committees that would allow limited shipping to Michigan residents by that state’s wineries as well as out of state wineries. However, much of the what happens in Michigan will depend upon what Governor Jennifer Granholm chooses to do. If she gets behind a limited direct shipping bill, there will likely be a compromise that allows direct shipping.

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