H.R. 5034 WILL BE BERRY, BERRY BAD FOR WINE
House Resolution 5034, The Comprehensive Alcohol Regulatory Effectiveness Act of 2010 (C.A.R.E), may just be the most cleverly named piece of political/social agenda since the pro-abortionists coined the words “Pro Choice” to describe the death of a fetus (if that line doesn’t get me “comments” then nothing will). H.R. 5034 purports to keep alcohol out of the hands of minors by excluding all wine shipments to individual states. It was concocted by the Beer and Wine Wholesalers of America in response to the increasing trend of states allowing consumers to purchase wine directly from California and have it shipped to their home states. Here is what Tom Wark, author of the #1 Wine Blog in America, Fermentation, has to say about this onerous piece of legislation:
” House Resolution 5034 is by far the most audacious attempt ever by America’s beer, wine and spirit wholesalers to takeover complete and total control of the country’s alcohol beverage market and, in the process, create circumstances in all fifty states that assure consumers only have access to the slim number of wines to which wholesalers decide consumers ought to have access. But perhaps most sinister is the fact that if H.R. 5034 passes, it will put out of business an entire swath of America’s artisan wineries.”
This bill, if passed, will allow the wholesalers to be the sole group that decides what wine will be available to you in your local stores. More importantly, not only will it reduce your choice, it will put an end to the hundreds of small family owned wineries in California who make just a few hundred cases of some great wines. The wholesalers will only be buying wines that are produced in bulk with 100′s of thousands of cases available.
In most cases a bill like this would have little chance of getting through Congress. This one is different. The 111th Congress is coming to a close, Four key sponsors of the bill have been heavily supported by contributions from this group (read that as “payback time”). This bill is complicated and difficult to understand as written. It’s being packaged as a bill to stop minors from ordering wine to be delivered to their homes. It’s hard to believe a group of 16 or 17 year olds are sitting around concocting a plan to purchase a case of Scarecrow Cabernet at $3000 a case and arrange to have an adult on hand to sign for it on delivery as currently required by law.
Perhaps, most importantly, this bill, if passed, will effectively prohibit states from even going to court to fight the legality of the issue. The lobbyists have thought of every angle on this one. It’s a horrible bill that will reduce wine selection and put small wineries, not just in California but other major wine-producing states, out of business. Below is a letter from one such small wine producer stating her concerns on H.R. 5034:
I am a small producer of about 500 cases annually of estate-grown, Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon who does not have a tasting room, can’t get a distributor to even answer the phone because I am too small for them, and sells ONLY to those states where we can ship direct-to-consumer and direct-to-trade. This bill would essentially wipe us out completely. But not only that, 70% of the wineries in Napa Valley are considered “boutique” wineries (5,000 cases and under) and a significant portion of them would also be wiped out or severely be impacted financially (on top of an already harrowing past two years!). This bill is an outright power grab by the wholesalers who do not want to see wineries controlling their own destiny (and margins) by selling direct, ultimately bypassing the distributor who barely works for the 50% margin they demand. The winery not only pays the distributor that margin, but also pays for the marketing and selling costs to get the consumer to purchase in the first place. Wineries are looking to get some of their margins back, be able to interact with the consumer directly (data that is not typically provided by the distributor) and be able to control their own destiny, rather than be controlled by a broken three-tier system.
If this bill passes, then we will have one hell of a farewell party with dozens of small wineries in Napa Valley calling it quits! As they go, so goes the passion for artisanal winemaking….
One reason this bill actually has a chance of passing is that it’s not of much importance to a large majority of the populace. It’s not sexy, it doesn’t ban wine entirely, it’s just not something that a lot of people will feel the passion to oppose. If you do feel like me, and would like to make your position known, I offer the following draft of a letter for your Congressional representative. This draft was created by a concerned wine-lover on another blog:
Copy and paste the following letter… (remember to include your Rep’s name):
RE: House Bill HR 5034: The Comprehensive Alcohol Regulatory Effectiveness Act of 2010.
Dear Congressman/Congresswoman ______________;
I am writing to urge you to oppose HR 5034.
This is a piece of anti-consumer legislation.
It only serves the wine wholesalers and wine distributors.
It will not curtail abuse, reduce underage drinking or the social and financial cost stemming from those issues.
But it will strengthen the wine distributor’s and wholesalers’ restrictive control over consumer choice.
As a responsible wine lover, I want access to and choice in wines.
HR 5034 will result in PERMANENTLY limiting my access to and choice of wine.
Please, do not support HR 5034!
Thanks for your help!