Battle brewing over wine shipping restrictions

Image credit: Free the Grapes

The first round in what could be this year’s big booze fight is scheduled for the House Departments and Agencies Subcommittee on Tuesday. The bill sponsored by House Majority Leader William Lamberth (R-Portland) seeks to place greater restrictions on direct shipment of wine to Tennessee consumers. The move is backed by the state’s liquor wholesalers and retailers, while it is opposed by a national wine industry group calling itself “Free the Grapes!”

The bill would only allow wineries to ship wine themselves, rather than using so-called fulfillment houses to handle the logistics for them. Supporters say the change would return the law to its original intent, which was to allow oenophiles to obtain hard-to-find wines directly from the source. Allowing winemakers to use clearinghouses to send their product far and wide circumvents the state’s strictly regulated system for distributing (and taxing) alcohol, they argue.

Opponents say consumers like the flexibility of having wine delivered straight to their homes — especially during the pandemic. Read the full release from the Free the Grapes group below.

February 25, 2021, Napa, CA – Free the Grapes!, a national coalition of wineries and wine lovers, is calling on consumers in the Volunteer State to write their state legislators in opposition to bills that would, if passed, effectively cut off Tennessee adult wine lovers’ ability to purchase and receive wines directly from their favorite wineries. https://freethegrapes.org

House Bill 742 and its companion Senate Bill 705 would ban winery shipments to Tennessee residents that move through a fulfillment house. Fulfillment houses play an important role helping small and medium size wineries warehouse, package and arrange for shipping through common carriers, like UPS and Tennessee’s own FedEx. If these bills pass, they will shut off an estimated 60% of winery direct-to-consumer (DTC) shipments to the state. No other state has an affirmative ban on shipments through fulfillment houses.

“These bills are anti-consumer, anti-free trade, and will reduce state tax collections,” said Jeremy Benson, executive director of Free the Grapes! “Direct to consumer (DTC) shipping laws passed over a decade ago give Tennessee consumers options to order a limited amount of wine directly from U.S. wineries licensed by the state. This bill would take the Volunteer State backward.”

The bills are also opposed by Tennessee wineries. Tennessee Farm Winegrowers Alliance executive director Adam Acampora says, “We believe limiting consumer choice is in direct opposition to the free and open market that the Tennessee legislature rightly touts. The bills’ broad language would also detrimentally effect how some of our wineries and farm wineries operate within the state.”

Tennessee consumers can visit FreetheGrapes.org to learn more about the bill and compose a message to state legislators sent automatically through the website.

Winery Direct to consumer wine sales fill in the gaps where the traditional three tier channel – shipments from winery to wholesaler to retailer – does not adequately meet consumer demand. The number of U.S. wineries has increased by over 500% to more than 10,000 in the past 30 years – there is at least one winery in every state. But U.S. wineries produce thousands of new wines each vintage, and nearly all wineries are small, family- owned and operated producers relying to some degree on DTC shipping to the 46 states that allow it.

26 Responses to Battle brewing over wine shipping restrictions

  • Avatar
    James White says:

    Free the Grapes ! Yep.

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    Cryan says:

    Jack Daniels shows up with a barrel of liquor and a wad of cash, and so-called free market conservatives become socialist regulators.

    • Avatar
      Jonathan Swift says:

      “Free market, reduced regulations” is just a label that the conservatives use to suck in the rubes. Our legislative history reveals that the Republicans are beholden to their deep-pocketed special interests, and thus continually try to protect certain markets from competition, at the expense of all consumers.

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        Stuart I. Anderson says:

        Yea, those darn Republicans being “. . .beholden to their deep-pocketed special interests” which raises the question as to where the Democrats get their money so that they are actually now outraising the Republicans? And I know that the Cultural Marxist billionaires out in Silicon Valley and on Wall Street along with the teacher’s unions who are single handedly keeping out schools closed have great political power, I wonder which party they support? Or is the question N/A because these Cultural Marxists/unions are not “deep-pocketed special interests”?

        • Avatar
          Cryan says:

          It actually raises the question of why is the House Republican Leader a socialist regulator? You know, the main point of this article.

          Classic Whataboutism from Stuart.

        • Avatar
          Jonathan Swift says:

          Stuart, your response is N/A as usual.

          • Avatar
            Stuart I. Anderson says:

            On the contrary Jonathan its very “A” as my way of showing that both parties are beholden and do special favors for those who give them the funds to operate. It is therefore business as usual, nothing to see here nothingburger rather than some unique incidence of hypocrisy practiced only by conservatives. Sort of like the “party of science” keeps the schools closed at the behest of the teacher’s union when science says open schools pose little threat to teachers or students. Then there is the “party of the working men and woman” who are throwing our borders wide open to foreigners who will compete with Americans for jobs at all levels partly obeying their friends in the cheap labor lobby.

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    Karen Bracken says:

    I wonder how many dollars are flowing into the pockets of legislators for this nonsense. Really, is this legislation in the best interest of Tennesseans or is it in the best interest lobbyists and legislators? Don’t our legislators have better issues to deal with than this ridiculous waste of time?

    • Avatar
      Cannoneer2 says:

      Well there was a big ol’ Jack Daniels truck parked in the Speaker’s spot last week, wasn’t there?

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      Stuart I. Anderson says:

      They are Karen. The legislature is even now dealing with the undesirable results of the Cultural Marxist’s assault on biological sexual classifications regarding female sports and rights of privacy. Thankfully the Republican Super Majority at times is super! Vital legislation in this regard just passed the Senate, it’s now up to the House.

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    Not that Stuart guy says:

    More utter nonsense wanted by no one except a special interest. Lamberth should be ashamed, but since he lives in a very safe district, there will be no repercussions.

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    LeeAnn C. says:

    I couldn’t care less. I wonder which issues of greater significance are being ignored by this and other media.

  • Avatar
    Cannoneer2 says:

    I thought we had finally gotten control of the liquor industry in Tennessee and its cronies. Vigilance to protect our hard won gains is necessary.

    • Avatar
      Beatrice Shaw says:

      WICKED LIQUOR!!!

      • Avatar
        Stuart I. Anderson says:

        GLORY BE!!!!! Beatrice, you are sounding more and more like a conservative with every post. A paleoconservative no less!!!! HOW WONDERFUL! I can see it now, just as the weather gets warm and we are all inoculated against the Chinese Flu we can all go down to the river with you dressed in a bridle outfit, Beatrice, and have a paleoconservative conversion ceremony. Lets make it a big ceremony followed by a big reception with your entire “On The Hill” family invited. LET’S PARTY FOLKS – Beatrice is becoming a conservative!!!

  • Avatar
    David Collins says:

    Stuart, are you really still referring to the covid-19 virus as the Chinese Flu? Come on, give credit where it’s due. The virus might have originated in China (the jury is still out on that) but it was able to shift into high gear right here in the good old U.S. of A. thanks to the total dishonesty and ineptitude of the guy you voted for twice–Donald J. Trump. So it would be more accurate to refer to it as the Trump Flu or the Trump Pandemic. Think about it. He’s always trying to take credit for something someone else actually did, but this time he actually is responsible for something, so why not give the devil his due?

    • Avatar
      Stuart I. Anderson says:

      Sorry David, name the thing whatever you like, but I’m a traditionalist and the pattern was set during the last terrible worldwide pandemic when we named the 2018-2021 flu the “Spanish Flu” because Spain was a neutral in World War I with little propaganda apparatus so after the powerful and influential all declined to take the blame for the flu the origins was pinned on Spain by gentlemen’s agreement. This flu certainly did originate in Red China and it was probably intentionally spread throughout the world by the Communist government of China so the best name for it is the “Chinese Flu.” The fact that attaching that label to the disease infuriates Chairman Xi only adds to the luster of the name.

      This virus was unique when it was unleashed on the world. No government or health agency knew exactly what they were doing in the early stages of the pandemic. What is going on today with liberal pinup boy Cuomo in New York is just one of numerous woulda/coulda/shoulda discussions about government failure around the world. If it gives you joy because of your Trump Derangement Syndrome to hold Trump particularly responsible, “if it makes you happy. . . .” As for my voting for Trump, the Democrats want to “fundamentally change” the nature of this country in highly undesirable ways so they have made me a Yellow Dog Republican virtually no matter who is on the ballot, Trump, Lump, Frump, Grump. . . .

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        Taxpayer #314 says:

        A traditionalist that lies to make it seem that what Stuart believes is the absolute and only correct version……he introduces diversions to confuse and rejects reality as he deems necessary. A true conservative!

      • Avatar
        Jonathan Swift says:

        Stuart, stop pretending to be intelligent and correct when you can’t even get the Spanish flu pandemic in the right century.

  • Avatar
    Taxpayer #314 says:

    The Big Jack Daniels Free Truckload shows up at the TN State Legislature and a few days later new laws are being proposed to make it harder to sell wine in the state – now why would anyone say that was strange? Those boys know how to do Bidness in Tennessee. It is the republican/conservative way!

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    Cannoneer2 says:

    The Legislature’s website says that the Senate sponsor of this bill is Dr. Page Walley (SB0705). I’m one native Hardeman Countian who is very disappointed.

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