Washington Wine Institute Hurts Consumers and Retailers…Purposely
Not only does the state make it illegal for in-state and out-of-state retailers to ship to Washingtonians, but the Washington wineries, in the form of their own trade organization the Washington Wine Institute, did all it could this year to kill a proposed law that would have allowed residents of Washington State to legally have wines shipped to them from wine retailers inside and outside the state.
Bottom Line: The Washington Wine Institute and its members, who actively lobbied against all retailer shipping and testified against the bill, acted like protection seeking thugs in their effort to keep Washington residents form having access to the wines they want.
The bill in question, SB 5256, originally would have allowed all retailers, importers and even wholesalers to ship wine to Washington State residents. When the wholesalers said they didn't want such a right, an amendment was offered that left only Washington State and out-of-state retailers allowed to ship. Still the Washington Wine Institute worked to help kill the bill.
I was reminded of just how niggardly the Washington Wine Institute acted this year, when I read their recent wrap up of legislative affairs they sent out in an email. In that email they report that the retailer wine shipping bill "would put our in-state retail partners that currently follow Washington laws at an unfair economic disadvantage. Washington already has one of the most open direct-to-consumer shipping laws in the Country."
Nothing about the proposed law would have hurt Washington retailers. It would let them ship legally to Washingtonians! And Washington States wine shipping laws aren't even close the the most open in the country.
I don't know who wrote this email. I don't even know if the Washington Wine Institute Board of Directors or its winery members saw this email or even understands the position its association took on this issue. But if they were aware of this email and if the board of directors and its general membership of Washington wineries was aware of the Institute's anti-consumer position…Shame on them.
Washington's direct shipping laws are hardly the "most open in the country." Washingtonians are banned from having any and all French, Spanish, German, Italian, Ports, Austrian, New Zealand, Australian, Argentinian, Chilean or any other non-domestic wine shipped to their home. Only retailers in America sell non-domestic wines and, thanks in part to the Washington Wine Institute, Washingtonians still are banned from having such wines shipped to them.
Did the Washington Wine Institute know that consumers in their state can't join wine-of-the-month clubs because retailers operate those? Did the Washington Wine Institute know that consumers in their state can't have auction wines sent to them because auction houses are retailers? Did the Washington Wine Institute know that its consumers are banned from buying the vast majority of rare and hard-to-find wines since it is retailers that sell most of them?
I'm sure they know all this. But they don't care. Either the Washington Wine Institute Board of Directors or its Executive Director decided to simply screw Washington consumer. Well done, Washington Wine Institute!
If any Washington wineries are reading this and if any of you actually care about your customer like you so often say you do, I have a suggestion:
1. Bolt the Washington Wine Institute and Pay Them Not a Dime More in Dues
2. Join Family Wineries of Washington State, an alternative organization of wineries that doesn't want protection like the Washington Wine Institute, that has consumers interests in mind—unlike the Washington Wine Institute, that works hard on behalf of its members and that actually had the right thinking mind to sponsor the bill that would have allowed Washington consumers to have wine shipped to them from retailers.
One can only wonder just how far up in the air the Washington Wine Institute, its Executive Director, its Board of Directors and its membership can stick their finger when theyt concern themselves with Washington wine lovers and retailers.
Shame On Them!