FREE THE GRAPES! UPDATE FOR WINERIES

    June 14, 2017

DTC Wine Symposium to Expand to Two Full Days: January 17-18, 2018

Mark your calendars!

Now in its 11th year, the Direct to Consumer Wine Symposium is planning to expand presentations and workshops to two full days. The industry’s national summit on direct marketing and sales will take place January 17-18, 2018 at the Hilton Concord Hotel in Concord, CA. Program details will be available later this summer and fall at www.dtcwinesymposium.com

Stay tuned for requests for Workshop topics and speakers, which will be posted to the event website in July. If you have a good idea and want to speak, this is how you can get involved!

LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

Many annual state legislative sessions are closed or soon coming to a close. Here is a summary, as provided by Wine Institute.

ALASKA
SB76, an omnibus liquor bill, includes the model DTC language, allowing 12 cases and a biennial $200 permit. After removing bad language, the bill will now carry over into 2018.

ALABAMA
SB329 died in committee, although it was the first time that a legislative hearing considered DTC shipping – a step in the right direction.

ARKANSAS
Arkansas has an almost unworkable law requiring wineries to obtain a permit that allows them to ship only to AR consumers making an in-person purchase at the winery. House Bill 1463, which was signed by the governor, made some minor changes that will benefit primarily in-state wineries.

ARIZONA
HB2337, an omnibus liquor bill, was signed by the Governor April 18. Wine Institute helped negotiate out the unworkable carrier provisions.

DELAWARE
A poor bill was introduced that includes several problematic provisions, including a 3-case annual limit, per household, plus a cap of 1,800 cases/winery/year and a ban on shipments of wines already in DE wholesale distribution. We are working to improve the bill.

ILLINOIS
Favorable amendments in SB941 – regarding carrier reporting, and the definition of fulfillment houses—have passed the house and senate unanimously, and are awaiting the Governor’s signature.

KENTUCK
HB298, our model permit bill, moved out of committee and will be discussed in an interim committee before being brought up again in 2018.

MASSACHUSETTES
HB3414 is another attempt to secure a fleet license solution for the carriers.

MARYLAND
HB987 has been signed by the governor. Wineries will need to identify what products they will ship into MD and that the products are of their own manufacture. As previously reported, MD sought to limit DTC winery shipments to wines of each winery’s own production, rather than other wineries’ wines.

MINNESOTA
All the DTC bills died, which is overall positive for wineries.

MICHIGAN
Wine Institute was able to secure positive language in a DTC bill that combined several bills into one. The bill passed the House and is now in the Senate.

MISSOURI
The DTC bills got rolled into one large omnibus bill, which did not pass, so DTC provisions for wineries remain status quo. A separate bill that included a provision to do away with the state reciprocal retailer DTC shipping law is awaiting the Governor’s signature.

MONTANA
MT SJR 26 would have created a study committee on DTC shipping, but it was voted down by the Senate.

NEW HAMPSHIRE
HB152 died in committee; it would have amended the beer portion of the DTC law to prohibit shipments of beer already in distribution, as well as required any brewer shipping the equivalent of 20 or more barrels of any beer to offer that beer to a NH wholesaler for distribution. Separately, HB161 was just amended, and is aimed at Total Wine, claiming DTC shipments into NH are below cost.

NEW JERSEY
Free the Grapes! issued a press release in early May showing that NJ’s ban on direct-to-consumer wine shipments from certain wineries costs the state $4 million each year in lost fees and taxes. The study was commissioned by Wine Institute and conducted by the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling, part of the Eagleton Institute of Politics, at Rutgers (ECPIP), The State University of New Jersey.
And as previously reported, AB4656 has been introduced that seeks to remove the capacity cap but only allows shipments of “reserve” wines which they define as wines not available in New Jersey through wholesale channels. Of course, we oppose this restriction.

NEW YORK
HB5991/SB5330, would allow for DTC shipments from out of state retailers. Free the Grapes! has been actively supporting the bills, generating consumer support and letters to NY legislators. Additionally, Wine Institute attended a hearing in support of SB5330.

OKLAHOMA
This is a complicated state, but recently, H1540 was signed, which fixes the consumer permit. The Governor also signed SB297, the omnibus bill, that removed the prohibition of sales of wines already in distribution, and addressed most of the common carrier concerns. This bodes well for 2018 when the new DTC law is scheduled to take effect.

PENNSYLVANIA
The PLCB announced that they are ready to being accepting product information reports from DTC wine shippers.  The reports will require both SKU# level information, as well as a zip code sorted report for all products shipped under a Direct Wine Shippers (DWC) permit.  The quarterly reports are being required for all shipments made since the new law became effective on August 1, 2016.  DWC permittees must file the appropriate quarterly reports to cover the period from the time they obtained their DWC shipping license and began shipping, up through the current reporting period.  Reports can be done online via the PLCB+ reporting system.

RHODE ISLAND
Two favorable DTC bills are being held for interim study.

TENNESSEE
S702, which would require common carriers to obtain a permit and file reports related to DTC shipments, did not pass and will carry over into 2018.

TEXAS
As a follow up, HB1715 would remove the 35k gallon cap per winery per year for DTC shipments from both in-state and OOS wineries. There have been hearings on the bill but it has not moved. Separately, HB 2291 would add brewers, retailers, brewpubs and out of state retailers to ship wine or beer to TX.

CHILD REGISTRY
As previously reporting, these bills failed in Idaho (H144), Missouri (H286) and New Mexico (HB240, S444).

FREE THE GRAPES! APRIL UPDATE FOR WINERIES

    April 18, 2017

PRESS RELEASE
Rutgers’ Study: New Jersey Restriction on Wine Direct Shipping Costs State $4 Million

Tax collections and consumer choice hurt by arbitrary cap

May 8, 2017, Napa, CA – New Jersey’s current ban on direct-to-consumer wine shipments from certain wineries costs the state $4 million each year in lost fees, as well as lost sales and excise tax collections, according to a study released today by the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling, part of the Eagleton Institute of Politics, at Rutgers (ECPIP), The State University of New Jersey.

Consumer choice in buying wine has never been better. In 2012 New Jersey become the 44th state to allow direct wine shipments. However, it put a limit in the law to allow some, but not all, wineries to participate. New Jersey and Ohio remain the only states banning winery-to-consumer shipments from larger wineries producing more than 250,000 gallons (or 106,000 cases) each vintage by imposing a “capacity cap” on the size of wineries eligible for a license to direct ship wine. Capacity caps also prohibit smaller wineries owned by larger wineries from shipping directly to consumers in those states. Arizona and Massachusetts recently eliminated such restrictions. According to Free the Grapes New Jersey, consumer choice in New Jersey is limited by excluding direct shipments from wineries that produce more than 90% of U.S. wine. (Read the entire release here.)

Read the Rutgers’ study summary here.

APRIL LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

Delaware: where’s the bill?

Over the past year, a task force of all segments of the wine industry, led by state legislators, has reviewed winery-to-consumer direct shipping and drafted acceptable shipping legislation. However, Delaware wholesalers, unions and retailers remain opposed to any form of DTC shipping. As you may have seen, Free the Grapes! is engaging consumers in DE, asking them to write their state legislators asking, where is the bill?

New York: New bill proposes retailer-to-consumer shipments
New York currently allows winery-to-consumer shipments but prohibits direct shipments from out of state retailers to New Yorkers. But a new bill (Assembly Bill 5991, and its companion, Senate Bill 5330) would overturn the existing ban and allow licensed out-of-state retailers to ship directly to New York consumers.

While the bills would only allow shipments from retailers located in one of the 14 other states that also allow retailer-to-consumer shipping, it is a step in the right direction. For example, it would allow shipments from retailers in California, Oregon and Virginia that also allow out-of-state retailer shipping, but not from Florida or New Jersey where it is prohibited.

Arkansas: terrible bill passes offering little improvement for DTC shipments

Arkansas currently has an almost unworkable law requiring wineries to obtain a permit that allows them to ship only to AR consumers making an in-person purchase at the winery. House Bill 1463, which was signed by the governor last month, makes some minor changes that will benefit primarily in-state wineries. Under the new law, wineries producing less than 250,000 gallons that hold both a DTC shipping license and a license to self-distribute their wine to retailers, can apply for a permit to allow them to do non-face-to-face shipments. The problem? Only a handful of local wineries meet these qualifications, and only 5 new licenses will be issued via a lottery in the future. This is not the fix that was needed to service Arkansas consumers, as almost all out-of-state wineries will have to abide by the old unworkable statute.

New Jersey: seeking new bill

Wine Institute is working to get a new bill introduced to eliminate the existing capacity cap that prevents wineries and wine companies with aggregate production exceeding 250,000 gallons from direct shipments. A separate bill (Assembly Bill 4656) has been introduced that seeks to remove the capacity cap but only allows shipments of “reserve” wines which they define as wines not available in New Jersey through wholesale channels. Of course, we oppose this restriction.

Next Steps: If you have NJ consumers on your email list, please include text on the following link in your next email campaigns. http://capwiz.com/freegrapes/issues/alert/?alertid=74097626

Minnesota: wholesales seeking to overturn DTC

House Bill 791 and its companion, Senate Bill 1418, look to replace DTC statutes with unacceptable provisions, including maintaining the two case shipment limit.

Oklahoma: keeping up the pressure

As previously reported, Free the Grapes! is encouraging OK consumers to write their legislators with a simple message: support plans in 2017 to introduce favorable legislation.

Next Steps: Include our copy and a link here in your next e-newsletter to OK wine lovers.

SHORT UPDATES

  • Child Registry Bills Introduced: Idaho (H144), Missouri (H286) and New Mexico (HB240, S444) are considering similar bills which would require wineries to scrub their email lists each month for “do not email” addressees. Wine Institute is testifying against these. (You might recall these were used previously in Utah and Michigan.) The bills in Idaho and New Mexico have been defeated, and the Missouri bill has not moved out of committee.
  • Maryland: House Bill 987 would limit DTC shipments to wine producer license holders only. The bill was amended to simply require a winery to identify at the time of licensure or renewal the wines manufactured by the winery that they intend to ship into the state. In its amended form , it has now gone to the Governor for his signature.
  • South Dakota: House Bill 1026 was signed by the Governor February 17. It requires that DTC shippers and common carriers include the tracking number on their DTC shipping reports. This is the Dept. of Revenue’s bill to put into statute the requirement already being implemented by regulation.
  • Texas: House Bill 1715 would remove the 35,000 gallon cap on how much wine both in-state and out-of-state wineries may sell directly to TX consumers.

 

Save the Date: DTC Wine Symposium, January 17-18, 2018

The popular Direct to Consumer Wine Symposium, the wine industry’s national summit on direct marketing and sales, will take place January 17-18, 2018 at the Hilton Concord Hotel. Program details will be available this summer and fall at www.dtcwinesymposium.com

The January 2017 summit sold out, attracting nearly 500 sponsors, speakers and registrants from 15 states. The program expanded to include 6 Workshop Sessions, 2 Town Hall Sessions and 6 Sponsor Sessions. Ninety-three percent of post-event survey respondents recommend the event, which is consistent with past years.

As previously reported, audio and video presentation files from the January summit are available for purchase. Files can be downloaded or streamed for $50/file or $250 for all 18 files at this link: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/dtcws17/ Files include Workshop Sessions, Sponsor Sessions, and four separate keynote speakers. Keynote topics range from global consumer trends and legislative updates, to 2016 shipment data and the rise of social video. (A separate link was provided in February to registrants of the 2017 event for accessing the files at no charge.)