So, for those that have read my blogs before, you won’t be surprised at the subject chosen for your intellectual stimulus today. Please forgive me for my transparency, but it’s high time we break down the borders of the so called United States (the key words) of America.
Yes united, all states to form a perfect union, great words but lost when it comes to your rights as individuals. You see, we are supposed to have state’s rights so that you may have choices to live as you like within the confines of federal standards. To be more to the point, you can’t infringe on others rights by claiming your own. You can’t murder, rape, steal etc., you get the point. But if you want to live in a place where there are no state income taxes then you have that right. There should also be free inter commerce between states with fair pricing of products from state to state. If you buy a washer, car, or a computer they should be accessible and competitive from state to state, right? So why is it we, in the wine industry, have to kneel down to every state and abide by the antiquated three tier system that has been the single cause of wine prices to sky rocket and has caused the absence of some of your country’s finest wines from your local merchant.
The answer is forthcoming, but it’s true that we’re only in 12 states total. It’s also true that many states would find it a felony to ship a bottle of wine to you directly. Imagine ordering a pair of shoes from somewhere then as you put them on you become a criminal?
Where is the justice for the wine industry? Of course these laws were put in place right after prohibition times, then the distributors throughout the years with power and lobbyist have made the laws even stronger. So it works like this, we have to be licensed in all states if selling wine there. We have to use a distributor in any state outside of California if we want the right to sell there. And now even California is being pushed by the distributors to change existing law so we would have to sell to distributors in state also. They use the explanation that children are getting their hands on alcohol and it must be subject to safe guards so we don’t allow minors to have access to this forbidden drug. Bull crap. It’s money, plain and simple. Distributors don’t like us selling direct because it cuts into their profits. They want a monopoly on all wineries, in other words, we would become slaves to people we don’t even know. Being obedient to them or we will sell nothing! You consumers from outside the state are already affected. And if we lose our right to sell directly then your pricing will have to go up. This is simple economics. Many of the states are being pressured to stop direct sales form distributors and for the record their argument is porous, full of holes. We can’t ship without warning labels, and adult signatures. No minors are signing for our packages. If a minor does drink a bottle of wine it’s because he got someone to go into a wine store and buy it, or he took it from his parent’s cellar. For the record, distributors have it wrong! If wineries were allowed to freely ship directly, there’s a much better chance that someone you introduced the wine to will order it at a local restaurant. And the restaurant orders that wine from distributors only. So we, on one hand, help them promote the wine. It’s short sided thinking caused by greed.
If the distributors have full control over wineries, they won’t have to buy wine until it’s sold. They can reduce inventory and just place orders as needed knowing they have us under their thumb. Can you imagine any other business running the same way? Creative people making something from scratch then having a distributor plunder your profits from you. Such things used to be punishable by imprisonment. Now it’s acceptable because you open the purse strings to access to your local representative and they want the power so badly not stopping to think who they’re hurting by making some knee jerk decision that becomes law. If you want to live in an alcohol free county there are many to choose from, believe me. And for the record there are many kind, and honest people working for these distributors that agree but can’t speak up without fear of reprisal.
I am here to tell you the price of a bottle of Bordeaux has tripled in the last five years. Some prices are even higher! The same goes for Burgundy and other imports. The fact is the Chateau’s and Domaines don’t reap all the rewards, it’s the importers, then the distributor, then the wine store, then it gets to you with three and four 30% mark ups along the way. The growing markets of the world are seeing more of the allocation you once had to choose from. Your choices are getting slimmer and we also are starting to export because that may be our future, sad to say.
I encourage all who lift a glass of wine from time to time to write your local representative. Tell them you’re unhappy with the current three tier system and sometimes four tier system. Tell him or her, you want choice and the distributors are in the way of the most fundamental rights bestowed on you by our constitution. Tell them it has become easier to buy a Bag of Marijuana than to get your favorite bottle of wine. If things progress the way they are, we will soon become extinct. Not chosen for extinction from fair competition but stripped of it by thieves that disguise themselves. They say they want what’s right, but they think you’re stupid and can’t see through their plan. Money buys power and with it corrupts a system that was designed to be fair.
I hope a cord was struck. If not, I feel we will slide down a slippery slope never to find our footing again.
Thanks for your ear,