Wine Wholesalers Have a Good Cry
It appears the wine & beer wholesalers in Illinois are concerned they are being portrayed as the "Bad Guys" in legislative battle there that could lead to many of the state’s wineries going out of business if the wholesalers have their way.
Say it with me…."Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww"
Jim Rinella, president of Rinella Distributing of Quincy, claims that recent rules allow out of state wineries to ship to Illinois consumers and that there is no guarantee that these wineries would pay the taxes that are due on such sales.
To put it bluntly, Mr. Rinella is full of it. California wineries have been able to ship wine to Illinois for years under reciprocity agreements that were in place between the states. Nothing has changed in that regard. What’s changed is that the wholesalers have learned that recent court decisions dictate that states may no longer allow in-state wineries to sell to RETAILERS and RESTAURANTS, while out-of-state wineries are prohibited from this. And that’s why the Illinois wholesalers are trying to use their influence, gained via campaign contributions, to stop Illinois wineries from selling directly to RETAILERS and RESTAURANTS. If they allow that, then they must allow out-of-state wineries to do the same.
Meanwhile, you’ve got representative Lou Lang of Illinois carrying the wholesalers’ water on this attempt to kill the Illinois wine industry. Lang introduced the bill that would stop Illinois wineries from "self distribution" and force them to use wholesalers. Yet when I asked Rep. Lang if there was any provision that would force wholesalers to represent wineries, since they would no longer be able to represent themselves, he stuttered and said "I believe that has been discussed." Of course, Lang’s bill has not been amended to assure this occurs. And why would it, the wholesalers have no desire to be forced to do anything.
And we are supposed to cry for poor Jim Rinella who is bothered the wholesalers are being called the "bad guys"? My goodness, they are lucky that "Bad Guys" is the worst thing they are being called. I know some people who might call them "Industry KILLERS" and "CORRUPT from head to toe."
But it’s Lang who really deserves this kind of name calling. Lang pulls out that old claim that he’s concerned that minors will get their hands on the wine if it’s allowed to be shipped directly to consumers. Someone should remind him that consumers in Illinois have been able to obtain wine via the Internet for years. Where was Lang and his concern for all these years? Did he know..
1. 99% of all wine that ends up in minors hands first goes through his patrons (wholesalers) hands?
2. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy completely dismissed the notion that minors getting wine via the Internet is a problem?
3. Bill O’Donaghue, Chief Legal Counsel for the Illinois Liquor Control Commission, says that in his two years in that position he’s seen not one case of minors getting wine via the Internet?
Of course Lang knows all this.
He also knows that the alcohol distributors, who are pushing this winery-killing legislation, are among his biggest campaign contributors. Pretty simple math.
This anti-winery, anti-competitive legislation in Illinois is nothing more than a case of politicians willing to kill off small business for the sake of preserving their own cash flow. I’m not sure what Rinella and other wholesalers are crying about: They are getting what they paid for.