How Can We Screw Wine Consumers And Pretend Not To?

How hard can it be to write a law that simply allows consumers in a given state to legally receive wine shipments from sources outside that state? Believe me when I tell you, this is among the simplest legislative efforts under the sun. Yet, in Delaware, there appears to be aversion simplicity, not to mention fairness and support for consumers.

A bill in that state, SB 49, is set to be heard in the Senate Banking, Business and Insurance Committee on April 10. It’s Delaware’s one-millionth attempt to pass a crappy wine shipping bill. They just can’t get it right.

SB 49 would allow Delawareans to receive wine shipments from out-of-state wineries, but not out-of-state retailers. As a reminder, it is ONLY retailers in the U.S. that sell imported wines, rare and collectible wines, most Kosher wines and that administer wine-of-the-month clubs. Are Delaware lawmakers intent on banning shipment of imported wines? Are they intent on enacting purely protectionist laws on behalf of lazy retailers and wholesalers who distribute a pitiful selection of wines? Are they intent on screwing over their wine-loving constituents? Rhetorical questions all. Of course, they are.

But wait, there’s more. SB 49 would ban the shipment of any wines currently distributed in the state by wholesalers. So, if an Oregon winery, for example, has a Delaware wholesaler distributing its single vineyard wine from the Dundee Hills, that wine may not be shipped into the state from the winery—even if the wine sells out in the state. It’s a remarkably stupid provision.

You can’t teach this kind of lawmaking. You have to stumble into it like you do a hole in the ground.

Lawmakers write these bills thinking they are crafting some sort of compromise between all the “Stakeholders”. How is it that these elected officials never consider consumers to be one of those stakeholders? If they did, you’d never see bills that tell consumers, “you can get shipments of Oregon Sangiovese if you order it from the winery, but we won’t be allowing you to have any Burgundy shipped to you, nor Argentine Malbec, and you can forget getting your hands on that Austrian Riesling since we are making all that illegal.”

Free the Grapes is asking Delawareans to write members of the Senate Banking, Business and Insurance Committee and ask them to amend the bill so that wineries may ship the state’s consumers wines that are already distributed in the state.

However, Free the Grapes isn’t asking Delaware consumers to ask the Committee members to amend SB 49 to allow shipments from out-of-state retailers. 

There ought to be an agreement between lawmakers, retailers, wineries, distributors, consumers and advocacy groups that wine is wine, no matter what it tastes like, no matter the originating country. Without that agreement, consumers are always screwed and arbitrary winners and losers are chosen.

6 Responses

  1. Dwight Albers - March 30, 2019

    Unfortunately in Texas we are hamstrung by similar foolishness. My beef is that small lot, one-off wine that is not widely distributed. I do support my local retailers. But in many cases they cannot or will not make the effort to get me a particular wine that is not available locally.

  2. Tom Wark - March 30, 2019


    In Texas there is a simple philosophy at play among your retailers and wholesalers: “I we don’t sell it, you don’t need it and you can’t have it.”

  3. Nicholas Telehus - April 2, 2019

    Well, so much for your anti-trust laws. Australia’s Constitution guarantees free trade between States – save bio-security issues, and the like. This is an absolute. So what has happened to America’s laissez-faire economy and those much touted rights and freedoms given to you by law?

  4. VVP - April 3, 2019

    Nicholas Telehus:

    US Constitution does guarantee free trade between States.

    Shipping alcohol from one state to a resident in another, the transaction of interstate commerce, which is within the exclusive jurisdiction of Congress.

    This scribbler just keeps making waves.

  5. Nicholas Telehus - April 3, 2019

    Wave-makers make the best scribblers. Keep it up.

  6. Helene - April 5, 2019

    Ouch, big ouch! But for those of us in Great Britain (possibly not-very-Great Britain), we have had the luxury of many wines form everywhere (at a price, to be fair.) With Brexit, maybe we will have to ‘Leave’ GB in order to find our favourite wines at a price we can (almost) afford? But try to find anything not French in La France, and it’s dreamworld.

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