Free the Grapes! April 2018 Update

In this Issue

  • DTC Wine Symposium: Save the Date!
  • Wine Institute and Compli Launch New Compliance Website
  • New Website in Works for Free the Grapes
  • Legislative Updates: 2018 Sessions in Full Swing

Save the Date: 2019 DTC Wine Symposium
The DTC Wine Symposium, presented by and a fundraiser for Free the Grapes!, will take place January 23-24, 2019 at the Hilton Concord Hotel in Concord, California. Online registration will be available starting in September.

The January 2018 event attracted another sold-out group of wine club, tasting room, marketing and DTC managers from 19 states and four countries. In the post-event survey, 96% recommend the summit, and 86% graded it as either “excellent” or “good.” To review a short video reel please visit

Wine Institute and Compli Launch Website
Wine Institute and Compli have collaborated to create a new and improved DTC website that offers the California wine industry a comprehensive resource on all state shipping compliance rules consolidated into a single place. The site is very useful and is available to both members and non-members alike. Visit:

New Website for Free the Grapes!
In other website news, will get an upgrade. The goal is to make it even easier for consumers to send messages to their state legislators. We will address key areas such as the mobile interface, an API with the letter-writing functionality, and SEO. The email template will also get a face lift. Have suggestions? Contact us at



It has been a very busy spring for legislative sessions! We start with the states where Free the Grapes! could use your support:

Wine Institute is anticipating the introduction of a new, favorable direct shipping bill to remove the 250,000 gallon capacity cap that prevents wineries and wine companies producing in excess of that cap from direct shipments.  Free the Grapes! has been active in the state, building a consumer base and generating media coverage (including an Op Ed in the Trenton Times newspaper weekend before last).

House Bill 165 is a favorable carryover bill from 2017, and will receive a public hearing April 25 in the House Committee on Administration. Free the Grapes! is working actively in the state to encourage consumers to submit testimony, and to write the committee members.

Also, please include the following text in your consumer newsletters:

“As you probably know, Delaware is one of only six states that continues an archaic ban on direct shipments from wineries to you. Including your state’s own wineries!

Direct wine shipping bills have been introduced before the Delaware General Assembly for a decade, but each of them has failed. We’re hoping 2018 will be the year! But we need your help.

The wine industry’s national grassroots campaign, Free the Grapes!, is working to gain consumer support for House Bill 165, which will be considered by the  House Administration Committee. Our winery supports their collaborative efforts; we encourage you to take 2 minutes to visit the Free the Grapes! websiteand personalize their sample message to your state legislators. Time is of the essence.  

We believe that wine lovers like you should be able to order wine from ALL American wineries licensed to ship. Please support HB 156 to bring Delaware’s laws in line with the proven winery shipping solution in place in the majority of states.”

As previously reported, several bills were under consideration—some good, some bad – but they all died in committee. Some of these bills would have required consumers to pick up orders from local retailers which is, of course, not direct shipping. Despite the loss, lobbyists view the legislative landscape more favorably than in previous years. Also, the state’s wine lovers responded positively by sending 600+ letters to their state legislators.

Unfortunately, Alabama’s wine, beer and spirits wholesalers, as well as the state’s powerful retailers, had Senate Bill 243, a favorable shipping bill, killed before it could reach a vote by the Senate. Alabama consumers were quite active in their support, generating 900+ letters to state legislators.

You may hear about House Bill 400. While it would allow for wine and spirits DTC, unfortunately it includes an onsite first order provision and would not solve the wet/dry issue.  If it is signed by the Governor, we will notify you as to when and if the common carriers will begin accepting shipments.

Additional updates below:

Senate Bill 76 carries over from 2017. This omnibus bill would, if passed, replace the “reasonable amount” provision for DTC shipments with a more specific case figure, benefiting the state’s tax coffers. Wine Institute and the common carriers support the bill.

House bill 5368 would allow for retailer DTC but is unlikely to move.

2411, which is nearing passage, would expand winery shipping privileges to include beer and spirits.  Several other DTC related bill have failed to move.

Senate Bill 1282 would reverse some of the changes made last year in the wholesalers’ anti-DTC bill.

There are several carryover bills from 2017, including some concerning fleet licensing. House bill 3891 would allow both intra and interstate retailer shipping.

Wine Institute is working to increase the shipping limit beyond its current 2 cases/year.

Senate Bill 353, the commission’s bill to ban retailer DTC shipping, failed to pass.

Assembly Bill 5991, and Senate Bill 5330, both carryover from 2017, and would allow retailer DTC shipping. SB 5330 is now in the Senate Finance Committee.

The state is set to be the 45thto allow winery DTC shipping on October 1, 2018. We may see some additional carrier reporting bills before then.

H 826 was signed by the Governor.  It will raise the license fees from $95 to $230 in order to fund compliance enforcement. The VA ABC audits found inconsistencies of winery reports against carrier reports.