Wine Talk

Snooth User: dmcker

To end all direct wine shipments, and otherwise determine the fate of interstate wine shipments?

Posted by dmcker, Sep 29, 2010.

Congressional Hearing: HR5034  Live Video, Testimony, Witness List Wed. Sept 29,  11 am Eastern, 8 am Pacific

 

Beer, wine and spirits wholesalers take over the entire business? Read some background to this bill, and what's happening with it at:

Dr. Vino

Fermentation

Wine Spectator

Stop HR5034

Replies

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Reply by napagirl68, Sep 29, 2010.

Oh Lord..... as I read the bill, I am having thoughts of the CA public school system.....(crawling under covers).... YIKES.  Maybe I need to move to Italy?  

Sad that all one entity has to do is hire an effective spin doctor.to fool the sheeple...  Forget Bill and TedWag the Dog, anyone?

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Reply by dmcker, Sep 29, 2010.

More than just a spindoctor, I'm afraid:

Read about contributions from the beer lobby on the Hill in a Washington Post article here. And also how the big beer producers like Anheuser-Busch will even feel the pinch if the legislation goes through, so they'll of course be pulling their own spindoctors in to fight the wholesalers.

Read about a California Assembly and Senate resolution against, here.

Read more Fermentation clarification of the slick wholesaler lobbyist misclaims here.

Read some LA Times reportage here.

And see what the California Wine Institute has to say here. Elsewhere they've said "The more light that shines on this, it becomes clear this is all about the wholesalers seeking to lock down their monopoly in distribution."

 

So let's look at some realities. According to the Wine Institute, winery-to-consumer sales are $1bil a year. These DTC sales, whether over the web, via a mailing list, a wine club, or out of tasting rooms are a huge portion of a winery's income. And this legislation looks to ban those marketing channels. Perhaps this is why the LA Times story has these quotes from CA Congresspersons:

The House bill would "devastate California's and other states' wine industries, stunt economic growth and harm consumers by allowing discriminatory law and regulation to be passed and go unchallenged," Reps. Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena) and George Radanovich (R-Mariposa), who head the Congressional Wine Caucus, recently wrote their colleagues.

Which basically means, in the event the legislation passes through Congress and any ensuing challenges in the judicial system, that we'll be writing and talking about, as well as drinking, a lot fewer wines in the future.

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Reply by ChipDWood, Sep 29, 2010.

I'm beginning to have this odd, "shuddering" effect- almost to an epileptic level- anytime I hear the words "comprehensive" and "reform" put together.  It's come to mean one thing only: the redistribution of wealth from those who work for a living into the hands of those who wish to ride the various trains that are powered by the previous.

Wonder if there's something we could do on our end.  Great post Mr. Dmcker.

It is not only California that will be dramatically damaged by such legislation.  Remember- every state now makes wine, and the ability for the smaller wineries and vineyards to sell their wines directly to their visitors is the mainspring to their financial solvency.

Hopefully though, like every other issue currently on its plate, this congress will do nothing concerning this until after the elections in November, when we throw the bulk of the bums out.

I guess, when you lose in the supreme court, you take it back to Congress which is more expensive, since their are many more hands to grease.

The thought of it all gives me the same feeling one gets when they realize they've had too much Tequila.

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Reply by ChipDWood, Sep 29, 2010.

Ok: have to add this:

"Talk of a bill first surfaced when a Congressional subcommittee held a hearing with little notice on March 18. During the session, wholesalers and state regulators argued that the three-tier system is under attack and that the U.S. faces "an alcohol epidemic" if Congress does not intervene and prevent deregulation of alcohol sales. The hearing took many in the wine industry by surprise, and no winery-, retailer- or consumer-advocacy groups testified."

Ok, let's start with: WHICH Congessional sub-committee?  Who introduced this.  We know the wholesalers' LOBBY wrote it up- but who was responsible for bringing this to the congress for debate?

Why is that not part of the story?  WHO.  GOT.  PAID?

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Reply by ChipDWood, Sep 29, 2010.

GOT HIM:

"Below is the text of the bill as introduced by its Primary Sponsor, Bill Delahunt (D)—MA".  (Follow the link to have a look at his page, funded by your dollars).

Does anyone from our Massachusetts chapter of Snoothers know who stands in the background there?  I gotta know...

If it were either of the Adams brothers, they'd bop him on the freaking HEAD for introducing this garbage and wasting the time of Congress... I mean more than they already waste it themselves.

...If it's John, he'd turn South and say: "Thomas... here's your five bucks.  You nailed it.  Again."

This is the same guy that wants federal funds to prevent "homelessness" on Cape, Freaking, Cod.  Ever been to Cape Cod?  Believe me- they got plenty of money to handle such an "issue" themselves.

Here's Delahunt's 10th Congressional District.  Clearly the home of winemaking in the Country.

Wonder what Truro Vineyards thinks of this one.  It'd be interesting to get their take on it, since they fall within this Congressman's District.

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Reply by ChipDWood, Sep 29, 2010.

Ok, my last consecutive post on this issue, I promise.

My bet goes thusly:

Knowing there was no way this would get passed, Delahunt introduced the crap sandwich to what is little more than a lame duck congress (The house, where Delahunt roams, more lame than the Senate at this point), in order to collect cash on a promise to do so by a deadline.  Looking at the calendar, my bet would be that he only "collects" from the lobby if he does so before October 1st of this year.

My bet, also, is that you will not hear much about this bill, as it is brushed under the carpet before election time in November.  Unless, perhaps, you're someone who watches Fox News.  They seem adept at finding such stories introduced by democrats that have the potential to hurt the democratic brand.

I know we live in a "Representative Republic"- but this is a manifestation of pure democracy.  AYUND...

"The greatest argument against the cornerstone of Democracy can be made in a five minute conversation with the average voter."

~ Winston Churchill

(Me, paraphrasing.  Poorly I'm sure.  I suck at it.)

Massachusetts Snoothers- you know what to do.  By saving yourselves and by ditching this Delahunt bafoon, you save the rest of the free Country.  We're counting on you.

(ps... I think I took that pick.  We visited "the home of Delahunt" last year)

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Reply by VaderSS, Sep 29, 2010.

Typical government bs.  Yet another anti-business piece of garbage that will ultimately reduce taxes brought in, kill jobs, and help end the art that is produced by small winemakers.

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Reply by ChipDWood, Sep 29, 2010.

It won't ever pass.  They don;t have the stones to follow thru, particularly after all the garbage they've passed in the past 18 months.

This one was circling the drain before Delahunt even pitched it in.

...I just hope it gets the proper coverage that it deserves.

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Reply by napagirl68, Sep 30, 2010.

quoting ChipDWood:

Ok: have to add this:

"Talk of a bill first surfaced when a Congressional subcommittee held a hearing with little notice on March 18. During the session, wholesalers and state regulators argued that the three-tier system is under attack and that the U.S. faces "an alcohol epidemic" if Congress does not intervene and prevent deregulation of alcohol sales. The hearing took many in the wine industry by surprise, and no winery-, retailer- or consumer-advocacy groups testified."

All I can say in my CA accent, is, OMG!  Sounds like the sub-committee may have been involved with the Obama HealthScare Plan.  Let's just volunteer up all of our civil rights right now and get it the hell over with. 

Actually, I am pretty middle of the road, more to left, politically, (especially when it comes to personal freedoms).  but it seems that our personal freedoms are becoming more and more infringed upon.  I usually stay out of politics since I have become convinced that both parties are disconnected from the masses, crooks and otherwise ineffectual. 

Now for my opinion of this..  I CANNOT see how this bill could ever succeed.  Being that everything comes back to the almighty dollar, have any of you visited tasting rooms in Napa lately???   Del Dotto?  There is so much money in that valley it is sick... I know the smaller wineries are not that way, but I would think with the virtual monetary power here, there is NO WAY this will ever pass.  Someone will be paid off.  Our govt is run by lobbyists, and the ones with the most $ win.

Even Gavin Newsome is making wine... did you know that?

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Reply by ChipDWood, Sep 30, 2010.

Napagirl say:

"Actually, I am pretty middle of the road, more to left, politically, (especially when it comes to personal freedoms)"

To be on the left regarding personal freedoms vs. the right of Government to encroach upon them is what this issue is, actually.  It's bigger Government, anti-Jeffersonian, bureacratic-think.  Big Bro is a lefty thing.  Note the (D) behind Delahunt's name and rank.

The rights of the individual over that Government, least the way I see it and from the bills on the docket, is actually a "righty", Jeffersonian thing.

Trust me.  I've revised my political ethos.  I am now a "Jeffersonian Democrat".  Which itself is a paradox and is meant solely to placate those who rush to criticize the right but are easily distracted by shiny objects (the "D", as in "Diamond"), and confuse those who have enough historical background & knowledge to put the contradiction into question.

And, I'm happy to report, it's workin'.

By the way, I agree totally.  This issue was thrown on the docket before those fruits left Washington, yesterday might I add, in order to collect a paycheck or meet a deadline (allegedly)- rather than to force any real debate regarding the 3-tier system or the regulatory aspirations of the middle tier of those three.

We've all seen what happens when you tempt the Government to grow.  That's what the carpet-bagging middle tier here has ambitions to do- tempt that Government into absorbing it (like "The Blob"), in order to secure it against rough times.  A luxury that its surrounding "tiers" cannot afford the luxury of having, since they are not taxpayer subsidized and must face the harsh elements of competition themselves in order to survive, and grow, or die.  That very threat of competition is what this is ALL about.

The middle (distributors and their powerful lobby) want the security that the parties on either side of it simply cannot afford.

It was a wet log thrown onto the campfire as people rushed back to their tents/districts as the rain began to fall from the heavens.

This kind of legislation is anti-competitive in its nature and would crush one of the only industries that actually has a modern chance to thrive in the US, being that of wine, from the agricultural sense.

I still feel we should query the Congressman Mr. Delahunt regarding the timing of it, and particularly from the back deck of the Truro winery.  Which, would no doubt go under, should his introduction be passed into law, before it would be struck down (again) by the Surpemes ten years later for being anti-competitive in regards to the U.S. Constitution.

("The Home of Delahunt"...I have the hi-res. too should anyone want a copy.)

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Reply by vinovito, Sep 30, 2010.

ChipDwood--One of the reasons Delahunt isnt running for re-election--these are the dingbats we elect in Mass,,Barney Frank,John Kerry And Ted Kennedy--I would guess 80-90 pct of the Mass wineries(not many mind you) are in Delahunt's district !!  http://maggiesnotebook.blogspot.com/2010/02/bill-delahunt-amy-bishop-delahunt.html

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Reply by ChipDWood, Sep 30, 2010.

Well, I wrote to both of his soon-to-be replacements today to get their take on the measure.  Be interesting to see if I hear back.  Keep in mind, these are Congressmen, not Senators.  There's no reason for them not to get back regarding an issue lobbed like a grenade at a lame duck congress by their predecessor.

Ya know.  We'll see.

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Reply by zufrieden, Sep 30, 2010.

Just a little interjection here for Chip: I believe the statue you are interested in is located at City Hall Plaza, Boston and is of John Quincy Adams ( I could be wrong, but I think not).  Not a bad counterfeit bit of marketing for someone posing as a democrat. The obvious solution is to allow direct sales with the proper regulations and penalties.  

Wholesalers?  Middlemen.  Eliminate them.  Please.

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Reply by Stephen Harvey, Oct 1, 2010.

It amazes my poor Aussie brain that in the land of truth, justice and the American Way, that such dumb legislation could be conceived.

Maybe you should all remind Mr Delahunt to focus his attention on trying to get the US economy ( and its people) working again.

Sort out the real issues such as poor banking regulation, wasting money on phoney wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and trying to come up with a way to solve the oversupply of housing.

My advice, based on our lobbying over dumb government ideas in relation to anything to do with wine, is to remind every Congressman and Senator and Presidential future candidate and talk show host that small wineries means JOBS, JOBS, and JOBS in regional areas.  Large Ivory Tower, bloodsucking parasite middlemen do not employ people in regional wine producing districts of the US, in fact they will probably outsource everything they can to India.

You must maintain the rage, start blogs, ring talk back shows, send wine to Arnie, any thing you can to avert this stupidity.

Good Luck, you have my support for what it is worth in this fight.

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Reply by jackster12, Oct 1, 2010.

Hey Chip... the best summary of Democrats and Republicans I've seen is this: Democrats = social freedom, economic restriction, Republicans = economic freedom, social restriction. 

And then, occasionally, you've got something that impedes both social and economic freedoms. Like this bill. And both parties have been guilty of that.

In short, and as someone who's written on economics and politics professionally for the last 18 years, I just want to point out that saying that restriction of freedom is a "lefty" thing just isn't accurate. 

No doubt, the left is culpable on many fronts. But in a nation where laws want to reach into your bedroom, your wardrobe, and more, the right has also pushed way over the line. 

Plus, congrats on your admiration for Jefferson. He, of course, deserves it. But be aware that much of the Right today has distanced itself from Jefferson's politics. Reason: his atheism and REAL constitutionally correct positions don't jive with their politics of convenience.

The bottom line is that both parties are nuts. 

Also to note, if someone is a "Congressman" he (or she) is a member of Congress, which means he could either be a House Rep. or a Senator. But they're all Congressmen.

But enough about politics. 

This is a wine forum... so let's talk about wine.

I grew up in Pennsylvania, which has only State stores -- state-controlled shops that sell wine and liquor -- and beer distributors for beer. You can't get any of it anywhere else (e.g. no alcohol in supermarkets, where you do all your other shopping). 

Now I live in France, where you can get wine at a fruit stand, a supermarket, wherever. And most of the people you run into in any of these places are pretty knowledgable about which ones are good. Here, you can also order wines online and have them delivered to your house. You can even buy wine and beer at some fast food places (beer, for instance, at McDonald's).

France, as is amply pointed out by sign-waving anti-healthcare protesters, is a socialist country. America, goes the legend, is the "land of the free." Do you see a problem here? Why on earth do we as Americans not only allow but insist on supporting these kinds of stupid, paternalistic laws... while at the same time, people we imagine oppressed by bureaucracy (and the French are, in many other ways, oppressed by bureaucracy) enjoy freedoms we'll likely never have?

Ridiculous. 

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Reply by dmcker, Oct 2, 2010.

Good post, jackster, and spot-on about the mind-numbingly hollow, shallow, effectively meaningless use of emotional-button buzzword labels, the bandying about of which in whatever context, whether political or religious or lifestyle, is meant to kill intelligent discussion rather than further it.

Welcome to Snooth.

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Reply by Vin du Bil, Oct 5, 2010.
"Yet another anti-business piece of garbage that will ultimately reduce taxes brought in, kill jobs, and help end the art that is produced by small winemakers." It is not anti-business, it is "pro-specific business". For years, the American consumer has seen choice and selection erode as "Big Business" has manuvered to direct our purchasing to a select few providers. First, they began to purchase and "merge" with other product producers. Then they went into your local outlets and began to  purchase shelf space. Gallo was one of the pioneers of this practice, but it soon was followed by every manner of product industry, from potato chips to cosmetics. Smaller companies have a hard time surviving when the conglomerates control the amount of shelf space allocated and the positioning of goods on that space. Now then, smaller producers have found a way around this practice by selling direct to the consumer. But, the masters of industry are neither amused or ignorant as it relates to the potential growth of these sales channels and the impact that it could have on their bottom line. They have the means and the audacity to suggest this legislation and you can bet we haven't seen the last of it. As to Mr. Delahunt, I can only imagine the conversation that took place in some conference room, "I know this will be viewed as a silly piece of legislation. Who can we get to attempt to push it through?" "I've got just the guy, he either doesn't have sense enough to recognize it for what it is or he doesn't care. Either way he can be had for cheap."

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