Last year I noted the website sponsored by Arizona liquor wholesalers who opposed a bill permitting direct-to-consumer interstate shipping of wine. The Specialty Wine Retailers Association, which wants to lift the legal obstacles that prevent wineries from dealing directly with consumers and prevent retailers from dealing directly with wineries, has launched an online retort to the forces of wine protectionism. Unfortunately, it is not nearly as snazzy as the Arizona wholesalers' effort, and the thin white-on-black type is a little hard on the eyes. But it's refreshing to see a business group standing up for freer competition instead of special favors. Notably, the SWRA wants to get rid of state laws that require alcoholic beverages to go through government-sanctioned wholesalers, but it does not suggest that consumers should be forced to buy only from retailers, which would be in the economic interest of its members.
The SWRA blog will be tracking legal developments affecting wine distribution as states respond to the Supreme Court decision that overturned shipping bans that discriminate against out-of-state wineries. An across-the-board ban on direct shipments, covering in-state as well as out-of-state wineries, is one possible response to this ruling. A consistent policy of letting people buy wine where they please is another.
My columns on the legal challenge to direct shipping restrictions are here, here, and here. Last year Kerry Howley noted that a wholesaler-financed survey had found little evidence to support wholesalers' dire predictions that direct shipment would lead to drunken teenaged orgies.
[Thanks to The Wine Commonsewer for the tip.]