Free the Grapes! March 2019 Winery Update

The Hot States

We have a lot to report since our last update in mid-January.

New Jersey: We continue to aggressively leverage local press coverage and consumer support for two favorable bills which, if passed, will allow wineries producing more than 250,000 gallons of wine each vintage to ship. We strongly 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 where we direct New Jersey consumers: https://freethegrapes.org/alert/winery-new-jersey/

Ohio: As in New Jersey, Free the Grapes! is working with a local PR agency to generate 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: Senate Bill 99 would, if passed, creates a new DTC shippers permit replacing the on site bill passed in 2018 which is not working. SB99 passed the state Senate February 14 with a 29-5 vote and is now in the House where we are facing opposition from the Kentucky Distillers Association. You can keep your consumers up to date by directing them here: https://freethegrapes.org/alert/winery-kentucky/

Mississippi: There were three bills but, unfortunately, none of them moved out of committee prior to the February 4 deadline. Consumers were particularly engaged in MS, sending 703 letters to state legislators in January.

Additional Legislative Summaries

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.

Connecticut: House Bill 5035 would allow retailer DTC shipping but is not likely to be heard as a standalone bill. It also requires some language changes to make it feasible.

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.

New Mexico: Senate Bill 127 would have banned retailer DTC but the author pulled the bill and it is unlikely to move forward.

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: Wine Institute is working on a fix-it bill to address the fulfillment shipping issue.

Pennsylvania: House Bill 281 would create a spirits shipping permit similar to the wine DTC permit.

Rhode Island: Senate Bill 95 and House Bill 5454, both creating new a model DTC permit bill, 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: The state indicated they may pursue penalties against wineries offering discounts for wine club members. Wine Institute is supporting Senate Bill 53 to fix this issue; the bill passed the Senate 33-0 and is now in the House.

Tennessee: House Bill 8 would increase the annual case limit from 4 to 8 cases/person/winery. Additionally, Senate Bill 219 would allow in and out-of-state retailer DTC.

Texas: Senate Bill 313 would remove the 35k gallon quantity limit on both intra- and interstate DTC winery shipments.