Wine Nimbyism

Just once, I’d like to hear an honest to goodness principled argument by those who would advocate wine consumers be limited in their access to fine wines. Just once.

What would a principled argument for limiting consumer access to fine wine look like?

1. It should be consistent
The argument should be able to make sense no matter where it can be made and no matter who would be making it.

2. It should avoid the taint of NIMBYISM
Too often arguments to limit consumer access to fine wine come down to "I don’t want the competition in my region or my part of the market. This isn’t principled, it is protectionist

3. It should support a broader policy
If you are going to argue that consumers should be limited in their access to fine wine, at least give me a significant and compelling reason why these limits support a more important cause.

In Texas, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission is sending out cease and desist orders to RETAILERS across the country that are shipping wine to consumers that have ordered either via telephone or on the Internet. It is in fact illegal for out of state retailers to ship wine to Texas Consumers. This prohibition will end once the Specialty Wine Retailers Association’s lawsuit is heard. After all, why would the state of Texas give out of state wineries and in-state wineries the right to ship to Texas consumers but not allow Retailers out of state to do so? But, as it turns out, in-state retailers are allow to ship wine to consumers. No, this bit of protectionism will eventually fall.

But back to this issue of principled arguments. Witness the argument of this Texas wine retailers who is pissed Texas Consumers can buy wines from out of state retailers:

"Jim Cubberley, manager of local fine wine merchant Lake Travis Wine
Trader, says out-of-state wine retailers have been making sales without
adhering to the same regulations that he must contend with, such as
those that require working through Texas’ three-tier system of wine
importers, wholesalers and retailers. That system adds about 20 percent
more to the cost of his wine, as compared to the products sold by
out-of-state wine shops, he says.  "People are able to sidestep the local retailers such as us by
purchasing things that we cannot purchase," he says. "It’s hard to be
competitive with the extra hoop that we have to jump through."

He doesn’t think consumers should be prohibited from having wine shipped to them from retailers. He doesn’t believe wine should only be purchased in a face to face transaction. He’s upset, simply, that consumers have access to a better selection and potentially lower prices than he can offer.

I’d respect his position if it was invested with any principles. But it isn’t.

3 Responses

  1. Jim Cubberley - April 11, 2006

    Before you post information about me, please verify the veracity of my opinions before you express your own. I am sure you are a principled individual, as am I, but since I do not know you personally and haven’t spent time in your position I don’t think it fair for me to judge you. Please, in the future, respect the same of me.
    Jim Cubberley

  2. tom - April 11, 2006

    Well Jim, perhaps you might like to explain why it’s ok for you to ship wine but not out of state retailers who work under the same restrains and regulations as you. Where do you think NY retailers get their wine from? Wholesalers.

  3. Jim Cubberley - April 11, 2006

    Here’s how it works here in Texas. The TABC is a self-funding Commision whose funds come from the taxation of wholesalers and retailers in Texas. This allows them to regulate and enforce the alcohol laws in our state. Every state has different regulations and the more I hear from other states the more I believe that no state has a monopoly on crazy laws. The idea of what the TABC is trying to do is protect the interests of consumers and businesses alike by only allowing the sale of wines approved by the Commission. Yes, it behooves them to crack down on out of state retailers because, in essence, it is lost revenue. Perhaps you should have consulted me on the article beforehand and I would have told you that it is illegal for me to ship wines out of Texas. It is legal for in state wineries to ship their products across state lines as it is legal for New York wineries to ship their wines directly to consumers in Texas. Both have to pay taxes to the state of Texas on their sales.
    I am not questioning where NY Retailers get their products. I am saying that their is another hand in the cookie jar when wines come from, let’s say, France. New York definitely has better pricing than I do. I do not gouge on my mark-up. As a small retailer, my gross profit is 30%. But when the average Texan can buy his wine from Zachys for what I pay for it, I cannot compete. That is my beef. There is no way for me to get the wine cheaper, legally, and makes it difficult for me to compete. Does this make more sense?

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