Where to Get Your Fix of Wine Legalese

There are those of you out there who follow the wrangling, legal and otherwise, in the battle across the country over direct shipment of wine to consumers. The legal issues are pretty arcane. But for those who do take an interest in this the there has been a lot of very interesting movement in the direct shipping legal landscape.

In my estimation no one is covering this issue better than Ship Compliant Blog.

These folks are in the business of advising wineries and others on the issue of direct shipping. They follow the issues closely. They also have at their disposal one of the best wine beverage lawyers, Corbin Houchins, who regularly posts on the blog.

If ShipCompliant takes sides in the direct shipping wars its very subtle. They recently posted an eloquent letter from Doug Caskey, a member of the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board. In it he makes a spirited defense of the idea of restricting direct shipping of wine only to those wineries that make a very small amount of wine, essentially stopping the majority of CA, WA and OR wineries from shipping into states with such restrictions, and a tactic that is being used in a number of states and being challenged by Family Winemakers of California.

I disagree with Caskey. However, I sure like the fact that he was willing to write it and that Shipcompliant showcased it.

Also currently on the blog is a short article by Houchins entitled "Terroir in Court" in which he explains, "For the first time in post-Granholm legal maneuvering, a court
has recognized the geographic distinctiveness of wine as a factor in
applying the “level playing field” requirement."

5 Responses

  1. Paul Mabray - October 4, 2006

    I do think this is a great resource but incomplete and I think that though they share information, it is not actionable – even on their Wine Institute site. We are going to ask the world to give a list of actionable items to manuever through compliance. Fear-mongering of compliance has become the bane of our industry by multiple vendors and instead of helping wineries change the laws, these companies benefit from the laws becoming more complex and hindering the constitutional right to sell wine.
    Inertia – Powering the Wine Revolution
    —Paul Mabray – CEO

  2. Paul Mabray - October 4, 2006

    Our challenge to the wine industry to make complaince easier –

  3. tom merle - October 5, 2006

    I share your take on the dynamics associated with the compliance “industry”, but see this sort of marketing as inevitable. All wars have their profiteers. Indeed, most consultants, and I put lawyers and accountants in the group, benefit from the over regulation of our society. Yet until more battles are won, these entities do offer interim solutions for avoiding the land mines that the states, with the nudging of the wholesalers, have put in place.
    In the meantime, Inertia can perform a real service by orchestrating efforts to craft a compendium of procedures for satisfying those regs that produce the most bang for the buck, i.e., getting compliant in the states with the largest wine markets. Such an undertaking will provide much needed relief from the growing anxiety and frustration among producers.
    P.S. I still have trouble reading the words ~Inertia~ and ~power~ in the same sentence ;^)

  4. Paul Mabray - October 5, 2006

    LOL – Tom, maybe this will help – it takes power or “force” to move Inertia (in this case, the Inertia instituted on the entire industry due to antiquated laws and regulations created from the aftermath of Prohibition) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inertia

  5. tom merle - October 5, 2006

    You scratched the backs of the good fellows over at ShipCompliant and now they have returned the favor by printing a long response of yours to Doug Caskey which they say was posted on Fermentation. But where?
    Reading your comments on the SC blog, you certainly did a good job vilifying the enemy in the “the battle across the country over direct shipment of wine to consumers” but seemed to gloss over the concern raised by Doug that a fully open market would have an adverse impact on the Colorado wine industry. Of course it will. To think otherwise is to engage in wishful thinking. But then this is the brutal side of capitalism–survival of the fittest which leads to improved products, efficiency, and lower costs to consumers. There are always winners and losers in the marketplace (even though the Europeans try to soften the blow). Eliminating protectionism won’t just undermine the status of the middle tier.
    The citizens of Colorado will continue to buy the local vino, both because of convenience and state loyalty, but they will also buy more wine from states that have an edge in quality.

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