Cynicism, Politics, Wine and a Perfect Press Release

Thanks to Huge over at Huge Johnson’s World of Wine to alerting me to what is really a brilliant press release and brilliant bit of politics on the part of those fighting Michigan distributors to allow direct shipment of wine in their state.

WineCam is the organization of wineries and consumers that formed to fight off a cynical and back room attempt to deny Michigan wineries the chance to ship direct to consumers and to prevent consumers from ordering any wine via mail.

They issued a press release on August 12th that has a number of effects.

First the content of the release:


In an amazing display of candor, the press agent for the wine
distribution monopoly admitted failure in convincing the public and press to back a
ban on consumer-direct wine shipments, and said his hopes now rest in exerting
closed-door pressure on state lawmakers.

"This is not an issue that we’re going to wine on the editorial pages," Bill Nowling told "Crain’s Detroit Business in its August 8 issue. Nowling is director of client services for The Rossman Group, a press agent for the coalition led by he Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association.

Nowling’s comment echoes recent, private press-bashing by leaders of Wholesalers. "Every reporter in Michigan is falling for the wine industry’s whine," complained Kim Gary and Michael Lashbrook, Chairman and President of the
MBWWA, in a July 26 letter to members.

Thirteen Michigan newspapers and magazines have editorialized in favor of regulated wine shipping to adult consumers. Not one publication supports the distributors bill to ban all shipping and winery self-distribution.

"But it’s an issue where we have a considerable amount of impact, in the one-on-one lobbying," Nowling confided to Crains.

"This puts on display the cynicism of the distribution monopoly toward Michigan’s public, the press and our state’s legislative process," said  Joel Goldberg, WineCAM spokesperson.

"WineCam believes that the rough-and-tumble of media debate is an ideal place to explore the pros and cons of the public issues," said Goldberg. "In the case of the direct-ship legislation, public scrutiny has decisively separated the scare tactics and red-herring arguments from the underlying reality."

"It’s obvious why the distribution monopoly prefers to legislate in private away from the public eye. They believe that their open checkbooks and army of paid lobbyists will overpower the public interest. But we’re confident that our state legislators will reject this approach—in spite of the distributors’ massive campaign contributions—and respond instead to the clear public consensus that’s emerged in favor of regulated shipping, "Goldberg concluded.

EFFECT #1: It opens the window into the real thinking of the wholesalers which for so long has been nailed shut with crocodile tears about underage drinking.

EFFECT #2: It shines the public spotlight on the wholesalers’ expectation for the money they have spent on campaign contributions

EFFECT #3: It puts legislators who wanted to pay back the wholesalers in a bind: given the expectations implicit in the statements of Mr. Nowling, legislators will and should be seen as paying having their vote purchased

EFFECT #4: It gives the press every reason to scrutinize the wholesalers even further given their representatives now-public comments about the media.

EFFECT #5: It demonstrates the disdain wholesalers truly have for the plight of the small, family winery.

The press release is brilliant on many other levels from its structure to its simplicity to its ability to tell a real tale.

Bravo to WineCam and their efforts to sustain the free market and support both family wineries as well as the consumer

Posted In: Shipping Wine


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