In 2010, America became the world’s largest consumer of wine, surpassing France for the first time. We consumed nearly 330 million cases — 200 million cases from California, 105 million cases from other countries, and the remaining 25 million from other US states.
In other words, shipping is fundamental to the enjoyment of wine. And yet, nearly 80 years after the repeal of prohibition, access to wine remains severly restricted. Under the current regulated system, consumers pay 18% to 25% more for their wine than they would otherwise.
In 2005, the Supreme Court ruled that states lacked the authority to discriminate against out-of-state goods, including wine shipments, as doing so violated Commerce Clause. And yet, 37 states continue to restrict residents from ordering wine from online retailers and auction houses, or joining wine-of-the-month clubs.
Now, H. R. 1161 — aka the “Community Alcohol Regulatory Effectiveness Act of 2011” — “seeks to reaffirm state-based alcohol regulation.” In essence, this bill would overturn the Supreme Court’s ruling, and reward the current wine oligopoly for its political contributions.
In the past decade the National Beer Wholesalers Association spent $5.6 million on lobbying and the Wine and Spirit Wholesalers of America spent another $9.3 million — all in an effort to keep wine from being shipped.
It is time for wine lovers to say enough is enough.