Free the Grapes! July 2020 Winery Update

Legislative Updates

KENTUCKY: DTC Permits Postponed
Kentucky’s new law allowing licensed shipments of wine, beer and spirits goes into effect today, July 15.

But as Wine Institute reported Monday: “Wine Institute had hoped that the state would allow licensing and shipping to take place in parallel with the process of drafting and enacting the regulations. However, in response to Wine Institute's direct inquiry on the timing of the DTC license/permit application and issuance process, Kentucky ABC Commissioner, Allyson Taylor, has informed us that shipments will not begin until the associated regulations are complete and effective.”

Wine Institute anticipates it will be several months before winery permits are issued by KY. For more information, look for updates to the KY direct shipping page here.

NEW JERSEY: Re-engaged Campaign this Fall?
Wine Institute and its local lobby team are working to have favorable winery DTC bills introduced in the state’s new two-year term.

Positive DTC bills would trigger a re-energized Free the Grapes! PR campaign in the state. During the 2018-19 legislative session, Free the Grapes! created a successful local campaign with a local PR agency, media outreach program, and a NJ social media campaign. This effective strategy compelled thousands of wine lovers in New Jersey to write their legislators supporting removal of the ‘capacity cap’ law that bans shipments from wineries or wine companies exceeding 250,000 gallons production per year. Wineries: look for more information and updates this fall -- we'll need your help.

INDIANA: Wholesaler Exclusion Bill Dies
Our industry’s bill to remove the wholesaler exclusion, Senate Bill 11, died as the state legislature adjourned for the year.

UTAH: Unworkable Bill Passes
Since our last email, House Bill 157 was signed by the Governor -- unfortunately, it is not workable. The new statute requires consumers to sign-up with the state for a subscription wine club, and to pick up wine delivered to a local retailer. The new law also requires that wineries sell to the state at FOB pricing and requires an 88% markup plus delivery fees.

MISSISSIPPI: We’ll be Back
Late last month, the Governor signed House Bill 1088, a ‘special order’ bill allowing consumers to order from a winery and have it shipped to a MS retailer permittee. All markups and taxes are due as if the wine went through the state's warehouse system. The new statute goes into effect January 2021, but is unworkable. We hope to be able to support true DTC shipping in 2021.

Direct to Consumer Wine Symposium, Virtual Edition, Returns January 2021

With COVID-19 related concerns in mind, the board of directors of Free the Grapes! approved plans for a virtual DTC Wine Symposium in January 2021. The 14th annual DTCWS is presented by and a fundraiser for Free the Grapes!

The event’s goals remain unchanged:

  • To fund the Free the Grapes! PR campaign to open states and streamline onerous regulations, and
  • To create a practical, valuable annual conference on winery DTC sales and marketing.  

The event provides 70% of the operating budget for Free the Grapes!

While a virtual conference will lose some benefits of in-person events, the Steering Committee is re-imagining the symposium for a virtual presentation, which has the potential to conveniently and cost-effectively engage more DTC managers across the U.S.

Later this summer, look for more information and speaker requests in this newsletter and on the event’s website. Questions,  comments and suggestions can be directed to Jeremy Benson at