ANYONE who doubts that foes and opponents of direct shipment of wine and free trade do not have the best interests of wine lovers or consumers at heart need only read the following comment from the wine wholesalers representative in Michigan that appeared in a Wine Spectator article:
"[We] believe that between the wine brands currently approved for
sale in the state and the currently 420-some wineries throughout the
country that have direct-shipping permits, the consumers have
tremendous variety and choice," Lashbrook said."
In case you have not automatically done it, allow me to translate:
"We’ll tell you which wines you should have access to and you’ll like what we give you!!" And by the way, "Approved for Sale" is a euphemism for "the wines wholesalers choose to distribute". Now consider:
-There are 5,000 wineries in the United States.
-At any given time, there are 100,000 different labels (domestic and imported) available in the U.S. marketplace.
-A relatively few fine wine retailers and auction houses in only a few states possess the majority of collectible wines.
-Americans are exploring the diversity of wines like never before.
-Wholesalers in any given state, including Michigan, are incapable of distributing even a small fraction of those 100,000 labels and collectible wines.
More than retailers, it’s most important for consumers to understand that their interests are actively being undermined by a small but powerful group who would look wine buyers in the eye and tell them a pig is a pearl. Well, a Pig is not a Pearl, and the very small selection of wines available to Michigan wine lovers inside the state does not represent "tremendous variety and choice". It represents the wholesalers inventory.
Mr. Lashbrook of the Michigan Beer & Wine Wholesalers Association goes on to make the following point in the Wine Spectator article:
"There’s been people [shipping wine to Michigan
residents] illegally forever," said Mike Lashbrook, president of the
Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association. "That’s nothing new.
Some of these folks, their disregard for the laws are truly amazing."
Now, I don’t know which non-Michigan retailers are shipping into that state. But I do know that those that are shipping to Michigan aren’t the people who are placing the orders. Those people are consumers who can’t find what they want inside the state. The extent to which Michigan residents are receiving wine from any out of state retailers is a direct result of the Michigan wine wholesalers inability and/or unwillingness to distribute all the wines that Michigan residents want.
What is "truly amazing" is the spectacular and blatant disregard for consumer choice and consumer access to legal products by wine wholesalers who live under the mistaken impression that the state, wholesalers and consumers ought to disregard the monumental changes that have affected the American wine marketplace, delivery logistics, communications and commercial technology and consumer attitudes toward specialty products that have overtaken this country in the past 15 years. And why should these changes be disregarded? So a small group of wholesalers can maintain their state-mandated profits at the expense of consumers.
Talk about "Truly Amazing".