free the grapes

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.

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