Something Sneaky Happened On the Way to Direct Wine Shipping in Massachusetts
Here’s what happened. The new direct shipping law in Massachusetts that lets consumers have American (but not French, Italian or any other foreign wines) shipped to them from out-of-state was put into the Fiscal Year 2015 budget, which passed. Shipping (from wineries, not retailers) will commence in early 2015.
However, somehow the budget bill that also held the direct shipping bill had a provision snuck into it that revoked he right of Massachusetts farm wineries and cideries to self-distribute (go around the wholesaler and sell direct to retailers and restaurants). This was a privilege that the state’s wineries and cideries had possessed for a number of years.
According to the Sun Chronicle: “State Rep. Paul Heroux, D-Attleboro, said someone slipped the provision into the budget without most legislators knowing about it. No one seems to be taking credit for it, he said….There is a suspicion that there is a special interest at work, but rank and file lawmakers are not being told who, he said. The whole way the provision was slipped into the budget has been a mystery, he said.”
Let’s ask, who benefits from this bit of legislative chicanery. If a winery or cidery may no longer sell directly to retailers and restaurants, what must they do? Well, they would be required to sell their wines to…..wait for it….a wholesaler, who would then sell to the retailers and restaurants. Being forced to sell to a wholesaler rather than directly to the restaurant or retailer would reduce the margins of wineries and cideries by 30%….at least.
But…“No one seems to be taking credit for it, he said….There is a suspicion that there is a special interest at work.”
Who could the special interests have been that worked to screw Massachusetts wineries and cideries?
The issue of self distribution was never debated in 2014 in Massachusetts. Whether wineries or cideries should be allowed to continued to sell direct to retailers was never at issue. Yet somehow some special interest was able to convince some member of the Massachusetts legislature to slip in this devastating provision under cover of darkness. That’s despicable.
The Massachusetts Legislature fixd the problem in an Informal Session on December 31, and assuring that the state’s cideries and wineries will continue to be able to sell direct to restaurants or retailers in the New Year.
However, the fact that this kind of underhanded action could have ever taken place with the consent of a member of the Massachusetts Legislature is exactly what makes people skeptical of government and the kind of thing that makes people despise the wholesale tier.