One Year Later—Capitol Riots, Wine, Beer, Spirits and Us
Today many will devote a good deal of brainspace and emotional toil to remembering the Capitol Riots of January 6, 2021. I don’t think anyone will or should treat January 6 like Pearl Harbor Day or 9/11 anniversaries, but I do think a good deal of justified introspection will ensue. With my FERMENTATION and wine industry hat on, I am motivated to ask if the Capitol Riot and its fallout have any impact on or anything of substance to say about the American wine and alcohol industry.
It does not.
In the days that directly followed the Capitol Riot, Public Citizen published the identity of those organizations that had shoveled the most campaign contributions to those lawmakers that challenged the electoral votes. The National Beer Wholesalers of America were listed as #4 on the list with $1.7 million since 2016. But as I noted at the time, these donations by NBWA are not an indictment nor any indication that the beer wholesaler association supported the riot. The fact is, NBWA would give a campaign contribution to any candidate that demonstrates they possess a pulse.
Then there was the member of the mob at the Capitol that took the time to crack open a Coors Light and record a video in
which he declared, “I don’t always storm the Capitol of the United States of America. But when I do, I prefer Coors Light.” This is an indictment of the man’s well of commonsense, but, again, it’s not something that connects alcohol to the motivations behind the Capitol mob.
But if we must think seriously about how the legacy of January 6 intersects with wine and the alcohol industry, then I suppose we must ask the question, to what extent does the partisan divide that so clearly controls the American culture and politics have an impact on the industry? Alcohol laws and regulations are notoriously non-partisan. You can’t count on Democrats or Republicans, progressives or conservatives, to have any particular view of alcohol and the alcohol marketplace. Moreover, those who insist America is filled to the brim with white supremacy or with wokeness are equally unlikely to have any particular view on wine, beer or spirits.
Today, the key issues that impact alcohol and are being debated in the halls of power are concentrated on direct shipment rights for retailers and wineries and brewers and distillers, distribution rights for producers, the perpetuation or repeal of Franchise laws, alcohol-to-go laws. None of these issues are subject to partisan divides.
Alcohol regulation and the health of the alcohol industry are subject primarily to large cultural and social trends that impact more than alcohol: COVID and its spread, increases or decreases in consumption, inflation, technology innovation, logistics innovations. Again, these things are not subject to partisanship.
All that said, were the real partisan divide currently infecting the United States polity that was on display on January 6, 2021, to evolve into a real threat to the basic functioning of our country; were the partisanship to evolve into a moment when the average person felt backed into a corner; were our partisan inclinations to motivate those on the left and the right to act like the idiots acted on January 6th, then yes, the alcohol industry would be impacted. However, this would be the least of our problems.