Hawaii Wine Lovers Want to Free the Grapes!

NAPA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--March 6, 2006--Hawaii wine lovers may have greater choice if either House Bill 1968 or Senate Bill 2109 pass the Legislature. The bills replace Hawaii's existing wine direct shipping law with updated language that will lead to greater consumer choice, will provide tax collection mechanisms, and will enable proven regulatory safeguards. Thirty-three states now allow for limited, regulated direct shipping, and many are updating their laws, according to Free the Grapes!, a national grassroots coalition of wine lovers and wineries seeking to ensure consumer choice in wine. (www.freethegrapes.org)

The bills closely track the "model direct shipping bill." The model bill was endorsed in 1997 by the National Conference of State Legislatures, cited by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2005, supported by the Federal Trade Commission, and recently implemented in New York, California, Connecticut and Texas, among other states.

If it passes as intended, House Bill 1968 will update Hawaii's 2001 "reciprocal" law, which allows consumers to purchase wines from 13 other states with "reciprocal" laws. HB 1968 and SB 2109 are consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court's May 2005 ruling and will help Hawaii consumers in two ways:

-- Increases Consumer Choice: Wine lovers will be able to purchase wines from wineries in all 50 states -- rather than just 13 -- who are licensed to ship directly to HI consumers. There are more than 3,500 wineries in the United States, at least one in every state, but less than 17% of wineries have national distribution (source: Wine Institute member survey, 2003).

-- Increases Case Limits: Consumers will be able to purchase up to 24 cases per year from a winery licensed to ship to HI consumers, up from just three cases now. While the model bill calls for a limit of 24 cases per winery per consumer, states opened in 2005 with a higher limit (e.g., New York at 36 cases) or no limit (e.g., CA, OH).

Free the Grapes! is encouraging Hawaii wine lovers to visit www.freethegrapes.org and personalize a message to Hawaii state legislators in support of a reasonable update to Hawaii's law.


Free the Grapes!
Jeremy Benson, 707-254-1107

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