Legislation update

Sovos | April 10, 2006

There has been a flurry of wine legislation activity around the country recently…

Indiana: House Bill 1016 was approved by the Indiana House and Senate and awaits signature from the governor. This is one of the stranger bills out there to say the least. It allows for limited direct shipments from both in-state and out-of-state wineries if they get a $100 permit. However, lawmakers inserted a previous visit requirement that says an initial onsite visit to the winery must be made before consumers can make offsite purchases. There is also a requirement that each consumer is limited to 24 cases per year across all wineries. This is crazy. How will one winery know how much wine a consumer has received from other wineries?

Oklahoma: The Oklahoma Grape Growers and Wine Makers Association is pitted against the wholesalers in a battler where the two sides seem too far apart. Although President Gary Butler proclaimed that both House and Senate versions of direct shipping legislation died on the floor, the OGGWMA continues to fight for direct to consumer shipments through lawsuits and public relations campaigns.

Louisiana: Two separate bills are under consideration in the LA House to allow for the direct shipment of wine. The wholesalers are putting up a good fight as usual and of the options would create a small farm winery exception where wineries that produce less than 2,000 cases only could ship directly to consumers. This would merely create an “incubation period” where small wineries could get off the ground before being forced to use distributors.

Kentucky: Compromise legislation passed the House and is expected to pass the Senate that would allow direct shipments from in-state or out-of-state small farm wineries for onsite sales only.

Maine: Two proposed bills and a lawsuit to lift the current ban on direct shipments have muddied the waters significantly in Maine. Resolution seems pretty distant at this point.

Florida: Florida is currently open to shipments, but on the “honor system” until permanent legislation is passed. A couple of different bills are on the table that would allow for direct shipments with restrictions. Florida consumers and wineries are pushing SB 282, which does not include a “capacity cap” that would prevent wineries that produce more than 250,000 gallons from shipping directly to consumers.