Send me some wine ...
© by Linwood Slayton

I love wine! I also enjoy surfing the internet and visiting web sites about wine and wineries. I buy wine and I drink wine - probably more than most folks. I travel to California periodically where I visit wineries and taste wines. I enjoy trying new wines and adding to my ever-growing palate. My wine journey is ongoing and may be taking some new paths.

Did you know that most states do not allow residents to have wine shipped to them direct from wineries? Most states do not permit you to visit a winery's website, review its wine offerings and purchase a quantity as desired. Many of us are becoming savvy Internet shoppers and understand that the savings in time and fuel and travel expenses far outweighs any attendant shipping costs for having wine sent directly to your home from a winery.

So, what's the big deal? It seems that the lobbyists that represent major liquor and wine distributors and wholesalers have been far too successful in their efforts to keep us from having the right to buy our wine direct from the winery. They argue that state tax revenues would be adversely impacted and, of course, so would the bottom line of the wholesakers and retailers - the middlemen.

It seems that this fight may be coming to a head in the near future as a case will be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court soon which may result in a change in these archaic and restrictive laws that plague folks who happen to live in states that prohibit direct sales of wine to consumers.

The case to be heard by the Supreme Court involves a small Virginia winery whose sales are severely hurt by the restrictive laws in question. Residents of Maryland who visit the nearby winery can not buy wine there and have it shipped home. Residents of D.C. are only allowed to buy and ship one quart a month. Residents of New York can not have wine shipped to them and must buy their wine through licensed wholesalers who in turn sell them to retailers - a three-tiered chain with obvious added costs to the consumer.

Why is wine treated any differently from any other product in the stream of interstate commerce? If I am able to buY a set of golf clubs directly from Calloway or Nike, and pay for them with my debit card and have them shipped directly to my front door, why not my wine?

The case for wine is even more appealing and compelling when you consider that there are so many small wineries that produce and sell quality wines. Why shouldn't I be able to sample and buy from anyone who sells a wine that I believe I want to have? Why am I restricted to a choice of wines that is made for me by the local distributors and the local wine merchants? The vast majority of the wines produced and sold by smaller wineries are not readily available at my local Publix or wine store.

I wrote a column a month or so ago on the subject of African Americans and Wine, observing that a major problem common to small, black-owned wineries is their inability to get their wines distributed nationwide because they do not produce on a large-enough scale, and the added costs of a distributor would adversely impact their already small profit margin.

So, I await the decision of our beloved U.S. Supreme Court with bated breath and the anticipation that perhaps my breath will have a decidedly new flavor - the flavor of a whole new array of wines that have been essentially unavailable to you and me.

I can foresee a whole new vista ahead if the case is successful and the restrictive wine shipping laws are deemed unconstitutional. The WOODSHED and WOOD ON WINE could become your link to wines made by our brethren and other folks who are considerably more responsive to your special wants and needs.

More to come on this subject y'all...


Feb. 6, 2005

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