Corking the Wine Trade

“Parker’s Wine Buyer’s Guide, 7th Edition: The Complete, Easy-to-Use Reference on Recent Vintages, Prices, and Ratings for More than 8,000 Wines from All … Wine Regions (Parker’s Wine Buyer’s Guide)” (Robert M. Parker)

Idiots in the legislature, State of Illinois edition

When the Supreme Court struck down state laws barring individuals from buying wine directly from out-of-state wineries, one lawyer called it “the best day for wine lovers since the invention of the corkscrew.”

Though they enjoy a new liberty to buy from out-of-state vineyards, Illinois oenophiles will no longer be able to order directly from out-of-state wine shops and other retail merchants — something they have been doing for the last 16 years.

It looks as though about 500 California vineyards that are not officially registered as wineries won’t be able to sell to individual buyers here either.

Meanwhile, Illinois’ largest vineyards, unlike their smaller counterparts, won’t be able to sell directly to stores and restaurants: They will have to go through wholesale distributors. That rule is bound to increase the price of a drink.

What gives? The governor’s office proclaims that the bill “represents an agreement between Illinois wineries and liquor distributors.” State Sen. Ira Silverstein (D-Chicago), a sponsor, boasted that it will “advance our growing wine industry.”

Notice anything missing from those pronouncements? Only the needs of ordinary wine drinkers. The clear intent is to protect the profits of favored businesses — and never mind if consumers, and the state’s most successful wine producers, lose out.

Even some of the retailers who are being protected from out-of-state competition have spoken out against the new barriers, fearing they will provoke retaliation from other states.

“Bills like these are bad for consumers,” Brian Rosen, the president and CEO of Chicago-based Sam’s Wines & Spirits, told Crain’s Chicago Business. “If every state’s borders were open to wine sales, we could sell $50 million in wine a year outside Illinois.”

[From Corking the wine trade]

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