Free the Grapes! August 2018 Update


The Workshop Sessions committee is looking for qualified speakers for the DTC Wine Symposium, January 23-24, 2019, at the Hilton Concord Hotel in Concord, CA. The Committee has created a Request for Proposal with suggested topics and info: see the pdf file link at the top of this page.

The goal of the Workshop Sessions is to provide practical counterpoints to the “blue sky” scope of  keynote presentations. Attendees are looking for winery case studies, experience-based insights, and tangible ideas they can implement immediately. If you’ve got insights to share, we want to hear from you! Topics include new wine club models, influencer marketing, DTC solutions for smaller wineries, event ROI, tasting room trends, and more.

  • Action: Review the RFP and note the deadline for proposed topics: September 14.



Many legislative sessions have ended for the year, so our update is relative short.

Oklahoma: On Track for Winery DTC in October
The 45th state to allow winery DTC has issued permit applications in anticipation of an October 1 open date. Compli wrote a summary here, and there’s more information on Wine Institute’s website.

Delaware Bill Killed
Free the Grapes! asked consumers to support House Bill 165 but only if it removed the ban on wines already in distribution. While the bill ultimately died in conference committee, it is the first time Delaware’s House or Senate have passed winery DTC legislation. Wine industry lobbyists expect a new bill to be introduced in 2019.

New Jersey Bills Under Consideration
Wine Institute and Free the Grapes! are working to support Senate Bill 2496 and Assembly Bill 3867. The two bills would add a new permit allowing wineries producing more than 250k gallons to direct ship, without touching the existing DTC statutes. Free the Grapes! has engaged a PR agency in NJ and has a separate Facebook campaign that is generating consumer support and letters to legislators. We expect activity to ramp up this fall.

Kentucky: Still a No Ship State
As previously reported, House Bill 400 was signed by the Governor in April, and allows for wine and spirits DTC. Unfortunately, it includes an onsite order provision which may face a court challenge, does not solve the wet/dry issue, and is unclear on other tax matters. Wine Institute recommends that wineries not take action until these issues are resolved.

Massachusetts: Carryover Bills in Study
A series of carryover bills from 2017 are now in Study Order 4638, and are not likely to move. Those bills include:

  • H 202 would create a graduated fee scale for farm winery licensees, and allow local wineries to do DTC shipping without the payment of an additional fee
  • H 1988 would require common carrier reporting.
  • H 3891 would allow retailer DTC shipping intra and interstate.

New Hampshire: Closed for Season
Senate 353, a bill designed to ban retailer DTC shipping, was tabled and died. Separately, House 1626 was signed by the governor but all DTC provisions were stripped out. 

New York: Retailer DTC Bills Unlikely to Get Attention in 2018
The legislative session technically goes through January 2019, but it has adjourned and may only consider issues during the lame duck session this fall.  All the DTC-related bills died in committed this year and it is unlikely they will be resurrected. Assembly bill 5591 would have allowed for out‑of‑state retailers to be included in the existing wine DTC shipping program, including the provision requiring reciprocity which remains on the books in NY. Senate 5530, its companion, is also dead.

Pennsylvania: Age Gate Requirement Announced
The PLCB announced late last month that it will require age-gating to affirm a visitor’s age either to enter the website (preferred) or at the POS, effective January 1, 2019. For more information on telephone orders and other age affirmation requirements, read the blog post by Sovos.