Wine Wholesalers Have Taken A Trip To Crazy Town
After more than 25 years in the wine business, very little shocks me. However, I’m still flabbergasted when I witness a willingness among some to knowingly say the stupidest things. The wine wholesalers have been on a roll this week.
In an article in the New York Times investigating the circumstances concerning wine retailers being able to only ship wine to 14 states, the following was said by Craig Wolf, the head of the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers Association…and it was said to a reporter.
“Craig Wolf…posed a nightmarish scenario of teenagers in New York ordering Thunderbird — the cheap, flavored fortified wine of skid rows and song — from retailers in Nevada.”
“Scenario” is probably the correct word to use here, in lieu of fantasy. The truth is that no member of law enforcement nor any alcohol regulator anywhere in the country has ever testified or reported that they have discovered a problem with minors ordering wine on the Internet and receiving it at home—Even Thunderbird.
“New York can’t hold Nevada accountable. Multiply that out by tens of thousands. There’s no jurisdiction for retailers at the federal level.”
I’ve met Craig Wolf and I can tell you he’s not terribly old. However, maybe he just looks young because his memory is failing him. He and his organization were the ones that lobbied the federal government to pass the 21st Amendment Enforcement Act—a law that allows attorneys general to sue out of state licensees in Federal Court if they break the law of the state—like illegally shipping Thunderbird to a minor. Getting old sucks!
“Mr. Wolf pivoted, pointing to several cases in Europe where people had died from drinking counterfeit spirits. The states, which have the power to license retailers, he asserted, keep them honest. Allowing retailers to sell out of state, he suggested, created a scenario for an unregulated system to run amok.”
And yet somehow, retailers have been shipping across state lines for more than 30 years and not once has death-inducing counterfeit wine been discovered to have been shipped by a retailer.
In a Wine & Spirit Wholesalers Association press release in which the organization announced their opposition to allowing the U.S. Postal Service to deliver wine, Mr. Wolf let loose with these doozies:
“This bill would undermine the consumer protections built into America’s alcohol distribution system…The proposed USPS delivery of alcohol would undermine those systems and jeopardize the industry’s record of success and responsibility.”
Again, maybe it’s a matter of age creeping up on him, but nowhere in the proposed bill are any changes made to the American alcohol distribution system.
“USPS shipment of alcohol would essentially create a “black market” channel for counterfeit and potentially adulterated alcohol to reach American consumers, including minors.”
“Black Market Channel”? Who knew the U.S Postal Service was an illegal means of shipping. Amazon, Ebay, and Diapers.com are going to have something to say about this.
“USPS shipment of alcohol would also undermine state law and the long-established, long-upheld concept of primary state authority for the regulation of alcohol as provided by the 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”
No state laws would be changed under the U.S. Postal Service wine shipping bill. And the U.S. Constitution will likely survive the radical idea of the U.S. Postal Service delivering packages.
“The U.S. Postal Service runs billion dollar deficits each year. It should focus on addressing these systemic challenges and not pursue risky or ill-considered ventures that would provide minimal revenue while endangering the public.”
Holy Cow, you’d think the U.S. Postal Service were being given the power to experiment with black holes instead of simply shipping packages. The public will not get sucked into an ever-expanding black hole that eventually sucks up the earth if the Postal Service knocks on a door delivering a bottle of Harlan or Screaming Eagle.
As I mentioned, its shocking to me just how willing some people in the wine business are to make stupid statements. It’s Crazy Town over there at the wholesalers‘ place.
However, these kinds of statements should confirm one thing. If you’ve ever thought that wholesalers get lawmakers to tip the scales in their favor due to their campaign contributions, these statements are proof positive of that. Because it sure isn’t the quality of their arguments.
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