Free the Grapes! April 2019 Winery Update

Hot States

It’s a busy year for DTC fix-it legislation as well as efforts to overturn capacity caps and open new states.  

Delaware: Senate Bill 49 was introduced March 19 to open the state for winery DTC.  Unfortunately, like it’s 2018 predecessor House Bill 165, SB49 allows winery shipping but bans shipments of any wines listed in the Delaware Beverage Guide.  An amendment correcting the provision will be offered and proceed alongside SB 49.  

We need consumer support! Please lift the copy from our Delaware page and include it in your winery’s consumer emails, social media posts, etc.https://freethegrapes.org/alert/winery-delaware/

The bill and its amendment will be considered in a public hearing by the Senate Banking, Business & Insurance Committee on May 15 at 11:30am. Help us encourage consumers to attend and testify.

You may recall that last year HB165 passed both House and Senate but was one vote shy of passing in concurrence. DE is one of the five remaining states that bans winery DTC. We’d really like to put the bill, with the amendment, into the “win” column this year!

New Jersey:  Two big pieces of news coverage are propelling consumer letter-writing to state legislators (but we still need winery help…see below). The state’s largest newspaper, the Star-Ledger, included in Op Ed provided by Dennis Cakebread, chairman of Cakebread Cellars, and Bloomberg news did a feature story on our issue. Here is a quotation from the latter article:

‘The legislation pending in Trenton, however, is fiercely opposed by the New Jersey Liquor Store Alliance, which warns it could result in less choice, less access, and higher prices.”

So you can see we have active opposition! We encourage you to include the following text in email communications that include NJ consumers:

“As you know, New Jersey is one of only two states that continues to ban shipments from wineries producing more than 105,000 cases each vintage.

The wine industry’s national grassroots campaign, Free the Grapes!, is working to gain consumer support for House Bill 3867 and Senate Bill 2496. If passed, these bills would allow shipments from wineries producing more than the current “capacity cap.” Our winery supports their collaborative efforts. We encourage you to take 2 minutes to visit the Free the Grapes! website and personalize their sample message which will be sent automatically to your state legislators. 

We believe that wine lovers like you should be able to order wine from ALL American wineries licensed to ship, regardless of production size. Please support these bills to bring New Jersey laws in line with other states.”

Please include the following link for New Jersey consumers:https://freethegrapes.org/alert/winery-new-jersey/

Ohio: As in New Jersey, we are busy generating local press coverage and consumer support for future bills that would allow DTC shipments by wineries producing more than 250k gallons per year. The same copy we use above for New Jersey can be tailored for Ohio; in both states we are trying to overcome a “capacity cap.”  Please include the following link where we direct Ohio consumers to write their legislators:https://freethegrapes.org/alert/winery-ohio/

Kentucky:  Last month we mentioned Senate Bill 99, which would create a new DTC shippers permit replacing the unworkable on‑site bill passed last year. While SB99 passed the state Senate February 14, the Kentucky Distillers Association is aggressively opposing the bill. Their point is that they are not included in the bill which would, ironically, allow DTC spirits shipments from outside KY to KY consumers.  We understand that the bill appears to be dead.

Additional Legislative Summaries

Alabama: House Bill 350 and Senate Bill 271, both creating a new permit law, were introduced this month. We are watching the bills and will support it as required.

Arizona: House Bill 2281, an omnibus liquor bill, includes a fix to the provision banning e-commerce transactions made between 2:00am and 6:00am local Arizona time, with a provision allowing ordering but no delivery. The bill passed the House and is now in the third reading in the Senate.

Arkansas: The wine industry’s bill to remove the onsite requirement, House Bill 1819, died in committee.

Connecticut: House Bill 5035 would allow retailer DTC shipping but died in committee. A separate bill was introduced to allow retailer DTC but includes “below cost” language that makes it unworkable.

Indiana: Several wine bills are in play. Senate Bill 96 would eliminate the wholesaler exclusion which bans wineries from DTC if they have a relationship with an Indiana wholesaler.  Other bills concern wine in gift baskets, and DTC penalties.  

Kansas: Wine Institute is working to correct House Bill 2143 which would require common carriers to report by type of alcohol enclosed rather than by weight.

Minnesota: Two bills (House bill 1909 and Senate Bill 1932) would increase the annual case shipping limit from 2 cases to 12 cases. Also, Senate Bill 2270 would simply remove the limit.

New York:  Senate Bill 2827 would allow cider DTC shipping but it requires a separate box sticker specifically indicating “cider,” as opposed to “this package contains alcohol.”  Wine Institute is opposing the bill because common carriers will not be able to comply.  Another bill, Assembly Bill 494, would allow retailer DTC from out of state retailers in states with “reciprocal” retailer DTC provisions.

Oklahoma:  Senate Bill 808 would require common carriers to include the “physical address” of the consignor and the “name and physical address” of the consumer ordering the shipment, and the name and physical address of the consumer accepting the delivery of the shipment (if different from the orderer) on their reports. These requirements are unworkable for the common carriers and Wine Institute is working to oppose SB808.  

Pennsylvania:  House Bill 281 would create a spirits shipping permit similar to the wine DTC permit, but it appears not to be moving.

Rhode Island:  Senate Bill 95 and House Bill 5454, model DTC permit bills, would replace the current onsite purchase requirement. A hearing February 26 did not have a quorum and so the bills are currently on hold.

South Dakota:  As previously reported, the state indicated they may pursue penalties against wineries which offer discounts for wine club members. Wine Institute supported a fix-it bill, Senate Bill 53, which was signed by the Governor into law.

Tennessee:  Two bills we reported on last month have died in committee: House Bill 8 (increase annual case limit from 4 to 8 cases/person/winery) and Senate Bill 219 (retailer DTC).

Texas:  House Bill 3785 would require a winery holding a DTC shipping permit to make the wine it sells. This is aimed at retailers who hold a winery license in TX and are reselling wines purchased from wholesalers. Separately, another bill, Senate Bill 313, would remove the 35k gallon quantity limit on both intra- and interstate DTC winery shipments. 

Vermont: House Bill 13 would raise the penalties for illegal shipments and is opposed by Wine Institute.