Your Wine Freedom

Did you know that 36 states don’t allow wine to be shipped to you from wine stores or retailers that aren’t located in your state? That means that when I or anyone else recommends a wine, you often can’t buy it. This is especially problematic when the wine you want isn’t available locally.

I believe that we all have the right to buy wine—as we do books, TVs or any consumer product—from any store we choose.

The ban on wine shipments is messy and politically charged. So I asked WineSpeed reader Tom Wark, who represents Wine Freedom, a wine consumer advocacy group,  dedicated to legalizing interstate shipping, to explain a few things:

KM: How does wine shipping interstate work now?

TW: American wineries can legally ship to 44 states and the District of Columbia, but retailers may only ship to 13 states plus DC. This disparity goes back to decades old legislation that seeks to inhibit competition where alcohol is concerned.

KM: What’s at stake for consumers?

TW: For one thing, the only way a consumer can get an imported wine is by buying from a retail store. So if a consumer can’t buy from an out-of-state retailer when they can’t find a wine they want locally, then they can’t have it. Also, many “wine of the month clubs” and auction houses are retailers. So the same problem exists with these entities.

KM: Shipping wine would seem as logical as shipping books or clothes. Why is this so contentious?

TW: From my perspective, wholesalers in states and many local retailers don’t want the competition from out-of-state retailers. So, they provide state lawmakers with lots of campaign contributions to assure they stay protected from competition.

KM: Is there anything consumers can do to help promote more equitable laws regarding wine and wine shipping?

TW: Consumers need to know about WineFreedom.org  where they can learn more about the problem and contact lawmakers. Right now there are retailer shipping bills in MA, NY, MS and RI that would allow wine shipping from an out-of-state retailer. Even if WineSpeed readers live in a state where they can’t have retailers ship them wine and where there is no bill currently, they can still take just 30 seconds at WineFreedom.org and write their state representatives to tell them they want the right to receive wines from out-of-state retailers as well as sign up for alerts. Every bit of consumer involvement will help!

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