Ohio Wine Lovers to be Cut-off October 1: Free the Grapes! Condemns New Law, Rallies Consumers to Help
NAPA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--A new law effective Monday, October 1 will prevent Ohio wine lovers from continuing to purchase wines directly from many popular mid-sized wineries, according to Free the Grapes! (www.freethegrapes.org)
“Many, many consumers are now receiving notices from wineries that state law requires them to cease periodic wine club shipments. We want those angry consumers to join our list because we’ll need their voices once corrective legislation is being considered”
During the closing stages of this year’s budget process, an amendment was slipped into the budget bill that prohibits medium and large wineries and wine companies whose total production exceeds 62,500 cases from shipping wine directly to Ohio consumers. The law was signed in June and goes into effective Monday.
Additionally, the law creates a potentially unworkable system that may scare eligible wineries from shipping any wine to Ohio consumers. The bill sets a 24-case annual shipping limit per “family household,” rather than an annual limit per winery, per individual, as is common in most states. Because wineries cannot be sure how much wine a household has purchased directly from others, wineries will not risk the penalties of non-compliance. Other states using a similar measurement, including Indiana and Massachusetts, have been considered “prohibited” by wineries and common carriers.
Free the Grapes! is requesting that consumers visit www.freethegrapes.org, subscribe to the group’s email list, and join 300,000 consumers pursuing choice in wine. “Many, many consumers are now receiving notices from wineries that state law requires them to cease periodic wine club shipments. We want those angry consumers to join our list because we’ll need their voices once corrective legislation is being considered,” said Benson. It is very unusual for direct shipping language not to be debated publicly, and wine industry representatives anticipate that the Ohio legislature may take up the issue during the next legislative session and correct the law.
In July 2006, a federal court in Ohio overturned the state’s shipping ban, allowing all wineries regardless of location or production size to direct ship to consumers. The ruling brought Ohio law into compliance with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Granholm v. Heald, issued May 16, 2005. The High Court ruled that states can regulate wine shipments but cannot discriminate by treating out-of-state wine commerce differently than instate wine commerce.
“Unfortunately, Ohio has chosen to replace one form of discrimination, based on a winery’s location, with another, based on a winery’s production size. And consumers lose,” said Benson.
Since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on direct shipping, winery-to-consumer shipping has become legal in 34 states, which collectively represent 78% of wine consumption in the U.S. Most states have successfully implemented the model direct shipping bill, which allows shippers to purchase a permit, pay taxes, mark boxes, and consent to the jurisdiction of the state, among other provisions. Free the Grapes! is a national consumer grassroots coalition of more than 300,000 members, and supports legal, regulated direct-to-consumer wine shipments.