The legislation last year to prohibit Virginia wineries and to prevent Virginia wine retailers to deliver to their customer was the worse legislation I have witnessed in my 44 years in the alcoholic beverage industry [“Legislative help for small wineries," Government News, January 16].
The legislation was probably created, sponsored and dearly paid for by the state’s wholesalers. I can think of no other reason that the legislation was created. The premise that the old system violated the federal three-tier law is a myth. And on the very remote possibility that it is not, one needs to explain to me how a Virginia wholesaler has an import license (or vise versa). That represents two tiers and it would be no different for a winery to have a wholesale license, allowing them to sell direct to wine retailers and restaurants.
I applaud Del. Saxman on trying to correct this injustice, but to set a limit on production, especially at a very low 3,000 cases may create many challenges of discrimination by any winery, but particularly by those in the 3,000- to 10,000- case production range. This first aid is not a cure!
The same legislation caused Virginia retail licensees to cease delivery of wine directly to their customers. It also requires them to get written winery consent to ship a particular brand to consumers by common carrier. This means you can pick up your phone and call Windsor Vineyards (in California) and have them ship you wine, but can’t call your local wine shop and order wine to be delivered. As far as written consent goes: When a winery or importer authorizes a distributor to sell their brand, consent goes with it. It is illegal for any wholesaler to refuse to sell any licensed retailer (in good credit standing) any item in their portfolio, it is restraint of trade. Once a wholesaler files an item with the State it can be sold to any retailer. The owner of the brand cannot dictate to the wholesaler who he sells to. So why does a retailer need consent, when it is already granted to the wholesaler?
I suggest contacting your legislative representatives and having them fix this properly.
Stanley R. Rose
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