Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Stop H.R. 5034 - support free and fair trade of wine

The H.R. 5034 bill winding its way through Congress right now has been the subject of many discussions on wine blogs, wine associations, boutique wineries, and small retailers throughout California. The Specialty Wine Retailers Association has even established a website www.stophr5034.com to fight against this bill.

Here in California we are lucky to have so many wines to select, from large wineries to thousands of small boutique wineries from one end of the Golden State to the other. Many other states have restrictions on wines from California being shipped direct to customers. While larger wineries have massive wholesalers to distribute their wines across the country, smaller boutique wineries that make California special have no such access. But in the age of the internet, these wineries have websites reaching out to customers from coast to coast, offering wine lovers a chance to taste these unique California wines.

In 2005 the Supreme Court case Granholm vs. Heald decided that states cannot prohibit wineries from other states from sending in their wines direct to consumers, if those same states allow their own wineries to disseminate wines direct to consumers, bypassing the large wholesalers. That was a great development for the smaller wineries and the consumers, but shipping direct to consumers can remove the wholesalers/distributors from the process.

The Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America and the National Beer Wholesalers Association have banned together this year to convince Congress to introduce H.R. 5034 that will reverse this Supreme Court action by allowing states to again enact discriminatory bans on wine shipping.
Who is against H.R. 5034? The Specialty Wine Retailers Association (consisting of smaller wineries and retailers), the Wine Institute, the Family Winemakers of California and the Free the Grapes, a leading group in favor of direct interstate shipping of wine, are all working to fight this legislation.

To learn more about H.R. 5034 and see what you can do to stop this act, check out the Stop H.R. 5034 website for updates and how you can write Congress.
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