Interested in the survival of Southern Oregon wineries, choice of consumers, or freedom of commerce? READ ON!
From the words of Josh Wade of DrinkNectar.com:
Now is a call to action for all wine drinkers, wineries, and lovers of small business. If you’re reading these sentences, I compel you to continue to read and to take action. Failure to do so could mean the end of buying wine directly from the winery you love AND the failure of the small business winery as we know it.
Recent posts from Wine Spectator and Tom Wark’s Fermentation shed light on a potentially devastating bill (HR 5034) introduced to congress that will further solidify the distribution control of alcohol among the powerful distributors and handcuff already struggling small business wineries. The language of HR5034 is aimed at prohibiting public challenge of existing state laws. Citing litigation costs and leaning on fear mongering WSWA (Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America) CEO Craig Wolf is deceptively seeking to increase control of already antitrust laws that date back to prohibition.
Follow the money. With lawsuits filed in more than 25 states and success of Granholm vs. Heald, wholesalers are starting to feel the pinch in their fat wallets. Armed with deep pockets and political muscle the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) drafted the bill aimed at stopping the progress of direct shipping.
Tom Wark says, “The only way many wineries can survive or thrive inside today’s ineffective alcohol distribution system is through direct shipment of wine to consumers. The only way consumers can access most of the wines that have resulted from the explosion of artisan wineries across the country is via direct shipment of wine. If H.R. 5034 passes, it will mean the end of the direct shipment of wine in numerous states.”
The fact that a bill has made it this far is troubling, however if Schoolhouse Rock taught us anything, a bill must be debated in committee, passed and voted in the house, then debated in the Senate and then voted and passed there, before becoming a law to be signed by the President.
In a recent article on Vin65, Vintank CEO Paul Mabray talked about the balance between direct to trade and direct to consumer sales. “Pro-direct doesn’t mean anti-distribution,” says Paul. “Direct to consumer is over demonized by wholesalers. Remember that most consumers buy wine and consume it within 3 hours of purchase.” Direct sales don’t support that type of consumerism. Paul goes on to explain, “Direct to consumer builds awareness and customer loyalty as well. Wineries that have combined direct and traditional distribution are stronger as brands and the wholesaler pull is better than those without direct to consumer in the market.”
What does HR5034 mean to you? If it passes, the whole game will change. Small wineries will suffer under the loss of direct shipping and lower profit margins. Consumers will have less access to wine they enjoy. Some consumers will be unable to get out of state wine. The only way brands will be able to sell wine to consumers is through wholesaler distribution channels. This is the definition of anti-commerce and monopoly. Even more sinister is the wording in the bill that removes the ability to challenge the law, thus removing your voice.
A CALL TO ACTION:
*Contact your representative and tell them to vote NO on HR5034. (Use one of the many articles in this piece for reference materials).
*Re-post this or any of the referenced articles on twitter using the hashtag #HR5034
*Join the Facebook community STOPHR5034, post it to your page and share it with your friends.
*Share this information with other wineries, wine associations, and wine lovers
The future of the wine business depends on our action.