Observing the Whine of the American Alcohol Wholesaler In Their Natural Environment

So, America’s wine and spirits wholesalers have “concerns” that Kentuckians may now receive shipments of wine and spirits from out-of-state wineries and distilleries. I’m shocked. Who would have guessed that the nation’s middlemen box carriers opposed consumers getting their alcohol from any source other than them?

The source of the middlemen’s concern is Kentucky House Bill 415, recently enacted into law. Their primary concerns is that the bill “failed to include the regulatory safeguards necessary to identify and crack down (sic) on illegal shipments.” The Wine & Spirit Box Carriers of America don’t mention that all wine and spirit shippers will have to report what they ship into the state AND that the Kentucky ABC will provide common carriers quarterly with a list of wineries and distillers that have obtained a shipping permit.

Let’s be perfectly clear, the Wine & Spirit Wholesalers of America don’t’ have concerns about safety. They have concerns that what they call “a smartly regulated marketplace for alcohol ” will evolve into a smartly regulated marketplace that allows consumers to access the wines they want, not just the steady supply of BIG CORP wine and spirits the wholesalers think they should buy.

Consider this nugget: The Wine & Spirit Wholesalers of America want to shut down shipments of wine even from In-state wine stores to in-state customers.

In a lawsuit (Lebmoff v Snyder) challenging Michigan’s ban on shipments from out-of-state wine stores, the Wholesalers submitted a brief that argued IF THE COURT RULES OUT-OF-STATE WINE RETAILERS MAY NOT BE DISCRIMINATED AGAINST BY BANNING SHIPMENTS INTO THE STATE, THEN THE STATE SHOULD SHUT DOWN WINE SHIPMENTS FROM IN-STATE WINE STORES TOO. To quote from their legal brief in the Michigan case:

“Even if this Court upholds the invalidation of physical presence for retailers (Read: If this court also finds Michigan’s anti-wine shipping law is unconstitutional), it should reverse the District Court’s remedy decision and sever and nullify those portions of Mich. Comp. L. § 436.1203 that allow licensed in-state retailers to deliver wine to Michigan consumers, leaving the remainder of Michigan’s three-tier system intact (Read: this court should ban Michigan retailers from shipping to Michigan consumers in order to remove the discrimination in the law). 

This is wholesalers looking retailers in the eye and politely telling them, “F U…you’ll do business the way we want you to and you’ll like it”.

Whenever wholesalers attempt to take the high ground by claiming they are concerned about “illegal” or “fraudulent” shipments as they have in the recent press release concerning Kentucky’s new wine and spirits shipping law, just remember this is a straight-up lie. Wholesalers are concerned that history has passed them up; that retailers and producers are done being overrun by wholesalers who believe they have some God-given right to control the market for alcohol; that consumers are finished being satisfied with the remarkably crappy selection of products wholesalers bring to market then insist they be the only products a state’s consumers ought to be allowed to possess.

The press release concerning Kentucky’s new direct shipping bill is really nothing more than a collective whining by the country’s wine and spirits middlemen box movers. They are SHOCKED that the Kentucky legislature didn’t listen to their whining and bogus fearmongering and shut down consumer access to products wholesalers don’t provide.

It is time that the alcohol regulatory community, the community of producers of alcohol across the country, and the community of fine wine retailers everywhere stop giving time to the self-serving claims of America’s alcohol wholesalers. Imagine that in a COVID-threatened society and in a post-COVID world the wholesalers would attempt to shut down the direct shipment of wine from both retailers and producers. Everyone knows that the direct shipment of wine from both wholesalers and retailers is exactly what consumers want in our brave new world, it’s what producers and retailers want, and it is what’s safe and healthy in our COVID-influenced world. Oh, and there is that small matter of wine and spirit shipments from producers and retailers no matter where they reside to consumers, no matter where they reside also being a matter of free, fair and well-regulated trade.

The Wine & Spirit Wholesalers of America’s recent temper tantrum and whiny gripe session masquerading as a press release about Kentucky stands as one of the most remarkably tone-deaf pieces of communications from this group I’ve seen in 20 years.

I have a five-year-old boy. When he wants something and can make a reasonable case for me giving it to him, he makes his case calmly and methodically as hell. When my boy has no argument or reasoning behind his requests, he just whines and whines and whines.



4 Responses

  1. Clark Smith - April 9, 2020

    Oh The Sun Shines Bright On My My Old Kentucky Home Shipping.

  2. VVP - April 10, 2020

    The most loved paragraph in the Bill is at the end of page 45 continuing to page 46:

    …it shall be unlawful for any person in the business of selling alcoholic beverages in another state or country to deliver or ship or cause to be delivered or shipped any alcoholic beverage directly to any Kentucky consumer who does not hold a valid wholesaler or distributor license issued by the Commonwealth”.

    Did you read this, freaks wholesalers? Every Kentuckian is required to hold either wholesaler or distributor license under this law!

    By the way, Tom, why do you block my innocent comments? USPS alcohol shipping is not your idea.

  3. VVP - April 10, 2020

    Clark Smith, no it does not!

    (a) Sales tax;
    (b) Use tax;
    (c) Excise tax;
    (d) Wholesale tax equivalent at the rate set out in KRS 243.884. If a wholesale price is not readily available, the direct shipper licensee shall calculate the wholesale cost to be seventy percent (70%) of the retail price of the alcoholic beverages;
    (e) Regulatory license fees; and
    (f) Other assessments.

    and on the top of all this:
    g) shipping cost
    h) reporting on all what you ordered

    Enjoy the sunset of this direct shipping.

  4. Jeremiah S. - April 10, 2020

    Because consumers are not entitled for wholesale or distributor license, the omnipotent government’s of Kentucky long arm will now reach not only any person in the business of selling alcoholic beverages in another state, but in another country as well.

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