HR5034, again….

HR5034 is still in the news. It’s gaining ground, but I hope we see its demise.

Here’s a re-post of my thoughts on this issue the first time. My views haven’t changed. Direct shipping is imperative to the survival of so many wineries. I really hope that the lawmakers see the difference between the wines consumers can get through distributors and the ones they can get straight from the wineries. And also understand that we’re just trying to sell out of our wine each year.

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I’m in the direct sales business and along with customers taking wine out of our retail shop, they also can ship it home, sometimes. The reason it is only sometimes is because we can only ship direct to some states. Currently, there are about 18 states that we can’t ship to. Doesn’t sound like a lot, but we run into shipping issues all the time.

It’s been worse since the airlines stopped allowing passengers to take wine on board. I totally understand the reasoning, but it still has affected our business.

But now there is a new bill that was introduced this week that could make that 18 number shoot way up. The bill is called HR 5034 and you can find the bill here. Wine Spectator did a story on it, you can find that here.

This bill could seriously hamper direct shipping as well as the consumer based lawsuits fighting already existing laws restricting this type of shipping.

So what does all this mean?

Well, if you live here in California probably not much (if anything) will change. But if you live in other parts of the country this bill could make it so you can’t get your favorite wine anymore.

The great thing about direct shipping is you can go and visit a winery and send a piece of it home to yourself. Or better yet, join a wine club and get a present delivered to you a few times a year.

Sure, there are still distributors that can deliver some wines to local retailers, restaurants and state run wine shops. In fact, this legislation largely benefits distributors because they will be the only way consumers can get wine. The problem is that many of the wines that are shipped direct from the wineries are not in distribution. This is what can make a trip to wine country so special – getting something you can’t normally get at home.

I believe that direct shipping actually helps the distributors. Receiving wines directly from a winery enhances the brand image of that winery. As a result, those consumers will more often pick a wine off a list (or in a retail shop) from that winery because of their connection to it. That sounds like a good thing.

In addition, isn’t all the wine from one producer important? In other words, when a winery makes a particular wine, their goal would be to sell all of it. Sometimes that takes both direct sales and distribution sales to sell a wine completely. So aren’t we all (direct and distributors) working for the same goal? Aren’t we on the same team? I think so.

For some reason there has been this perceived battle between direct sales and distribution networks. I really want to believe that it doesn’t exist, but something keeps telling me it does. And that, I think, is our real problem. Until everyone decides that we’re all trying to achieve the same thing, we’ll never get anywhere.

So, I’ll close with this one last thought. When did we move away from being the United States?

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