April 2015 Shipping Update

    April 20, 2015

April 17, 2015



South Dakota: Number 43!  South Dakota will be the 43rd legal winery-to-consumer shipping state starting in January 2016. The win is the result of several years of cooperative work by Free the Grapes, local consumer groups, and industry representatives from Wine Institute.

Background: After a good bill died in committee in March 2014, an Alcohol Study Committee of state legislators held a series of hearings last summer on alcohol distribution, including the ban on winery direct shipping. The Committee received industry and consumer feedback and testimony, ultimately voting unanimously last October to support winery direct shipping. Then in February 2015, House Bill 1001, which was sponsored by Committee chairman, Representative Roger Solum, was introduced and on February 19,  signed into law by the Governor. The statute goes into effect January 1, 2016.

Pennsylvania:  Bills Still Alive. Several wine direct shipping bills are still in play. Industry representatives are working with PA legislators to pass a wine shipping law that expands choice for wine lovers while avoiding onerous taxes.

Indiana: Partial Fix-it Bill on the Move. The Indiana Senate passed an amended version of Senate Bill 113 in January. Last week, the House Public Policy Committee further amended SB 113, and it was then passed by the House.  The bill now has been returned to the Senate for concurrence on the amendments.

The amended bill removes some serious impediments. In its present form, SB 113 would remove the provision that consumers must first visit a winery before any wine can be shipped by that winery. The amendment also removes the “affidavit” requirement requiring a winery to first obtain a signed statement affirming that the consumer is 21 or older at the point of sale.  Under the new rules, a winery will be able to use an approved Age Verification Service for on-line sales as they do in other states.  Unfortunately, the bill does not remove Indiana’s exclusion prohibiting a winery from direct shipping if they have a relationship with a state wholesaler; hopefully that archaic requirement will get eliminated in the future.

Members of Free the Grapes! in Indiana have been using our website to send letters to their legislators.

 Summary of Fix-it Bills and Legislation:

  • Iowa: Senate Bill 124 would change reporting requirements from monthly to every six months.
  • Michigan: House Bill 4125 would add in/out of state retailers to the current wine shipping statutes.
  • North Dakota: Senate Bill 2324, which has been passed and signed by the Governor, will change common carrier penalties from criminal to civil. We hope this make it possible for FedEx to begin shipping to ND.
  • Arkansas: Senate Bill 230, which was passed and signed by the Governor, will require DTC shippers to collect local taxes in addition to the state sales tax.  Unfortunately, House Bill 1739 which would have removed an on-site sale requirement in the current law failed to pass.

 DTC WINE SYMPOSIUM 2016: Stay Tuned!

We will soon announce dates for the 9th edition of the annual DTC Wine Symposium, the national summit on direct marketing and sales, and a fundraiser for Free the Grapes!  Last January, the conference in Concord, California attracted 425 attendees from 11 states and Canada, and raised $100,000 for Free the Grapes!  The contribution funds ongoing PR campaigns and state-specific consumer letter-writing in PA, IN, SD and others.  Ninety-three percent of post-event survey respondents would recommend the conference to their colleagues. Stay tuned to this email, our Facebook page, and www.dtcwinesymposium.com for more information.