[Image: Bunch of Grapes]
Let's cork up this bad law!

INTRODUCTION | CALL TO ACTION | SAMPLE LETTER | LEGAL ANALYSIS

The following alert is being widely circulated on the Internet by Free the Grapes!, a coalition of five wine-industry organizations representing hundreds of wineries in 43 states of the U.S.: American Vintners Association; Coalition for Free Trade in Licensed Beverages; Family Winemakers of California; Napa Valley Vintners Association; and the California Wine Institute.

Dear Wine Lovers,

Today, please contact your Washington D.C. representatives on the House Judiciary Committee and encourage them to NOT include the "Shackle the Wine Lovers" amendment in the House version of the Juvenile Justice Bill!

The House Judiciary Committee will produce its own version of the Senate's Juvenile Justice Bill, which passed the Senate last week. Bill S254--officially called the Violent and Repeat Juvenile Offender Accountability and Rehabilitation Act of 1999--seeks to curb youth violence, a laudable goal. Unfortunately, an amendment to S254 introduced last week by Senator Byrd (D-W. Virginia), and approved in the Senate, is totally unrelated to protecting our youth AND promises to bring current state-by-state initiatives to solve the wine direct shipping issue to a grinding halt.

IF YOU SUPPORT YOUR ABILITY TO PURCHASE WINES DIRECTLY FROM OUT-OF-STATE WINEMAKERS, PLEASE CONTACT YOUR HOUSE REPRESENTATIVES IMMEDIATELY AND ASK THEM NOT TO SUPPORT AN AMENDMENT THAT MATCHES THAT PASSED BY THE SENATE (the Byrd Amendment).

The amendment, simply put, allows states to seek injunctive relief in the federal courts against out-of-state winemakers for shipping a bottle of wine to an adult. What does this have to do with protecting our youth? Nothing. Why, then, is this amendment in the Juvenile Justice Bill? The amendment is politically-motivated to protect the interests of wine wholesaler middlemen who have a state-legislated monopoly in wine distribution. The intention of wine wholesalers is to jail winemakers who bypass them in order to satisfy consumer demand for fine wine. The wine wholesalers' well-funded lobbying machine has worked overtime to protect their turf.

To make your voice heard, here's a sample letter that you can personalize and send to your representatives in Congress, urging a vote against the Byrd Amendment.

Free the Grapes!

Jeremy Benson
Executive Director