Reason Over Emotion in the Wine Industry
The faster you learn to carefully pick your battles, the faster you will accomplish more, provide better service and live a happier life. This goes for the alcohol regulatory community. There’s a problem when lawmakers are forced to teach an alcohol regulatory body this fundamental lesson. And that’s exactly what has happened in New York.
After passing through both the New York House and Senate, a bill that will rein in the New York State Liquor Authority (NYSLA) and force it to better pick their battles sits on Governor Cuomo’s desk for signing.
The bill was filed in response to the NYLA’s attempt to shut down a NY retailer for allegedly breaking the shipping laws of other states despite the fact that the retailer, Empire Wine, had never been convicted of breaking any other state’s laws. In other words, Empire Wine was being shut down without any due process and on the whim of the director of the NYSLA.
What’s remarkable is that anyone or any organization actually opposed the legislation, but of course the Wine & Spirit Wholesalers of America (WSWA) argued that there ought not be any due process in the alcohol regulatory realm. In fact, WSWA went as far as to try and convict Empire without even discussing any of the issues involved in a press release earlier this year. It was the kind of despicable statement to you don’t expect to hear from a respected organization, but it gives you a sense of what becomes of people when their emotions overtake their reason. WSWA and others who oppose the simple idea of consumers being able to buy the wines they want are, for lack of a better word, completely irrational in their pursuit of state sponsored protection from competition and it’s not pretty.
The bill that sits on Governor Cuomo’s desk is simple: it prohibits the NYSLA from using the laws of other states to prosecute a licensee. This is good news for everyone including wineries. Because consider that a California winery that has a New York-issued license to ship to wine to New York Consumers is in fact a licensee of New York. What’s to stop the NYSLA from trying to harm such a CA winery when it believes that CA winery may have shipped illegally into a third state. This possibility exposes the irrationality of the NYSLA’s actions.
The fact that all 50 states don’t allow their citizens to legally have wine shipped to them from both out-of-state wineries and out-of-state retailers is the surest sign that lawmakers too often do the bidding of the highest bidder. Everyone knows this. It’s not a secret. So, it’s very re-assuring when you see a body of lawmakers do the right thing as they have in New York.