When it comes to influencing state laws controlling the wine industry, lobbyists have traditionally hailed from the ranks of wine producers, wine retailers, wine wholesalers and wine distributors. As of late June, wine drinkers now have their own voice, through a new organization called the American Wine Consumer Coalition (AWCC).
In a conversation on the Huffington Post, AWCC founder and executive director Tom Wark pinpointed the impetus behind the coalition: the plethora of anti-consumer state laws that inhibit consumer choice around buying and consuming wine. As examples, he noted that Massachusetts bars the direct shipment of wine to state residents. Pennsylvania controls all retail wine sales through its network of “state stores” – although there are moves by Governor Tom Corbett and the legislature to abolish this state monopoly; stay tuned for progress on that front . . . .
Additionally, Wark pointed out, 36 states ban purchases from out-of-state retailers; 17 prohibit buying wine along with groceries; and a number of states – including my home state, Indiana – have “blue laws” that ban wine sales on Sunday.
Can a group like AWCC have any realistic hope of standardizing wine-consumer laws and regulations across the U.S. to benefit customers? It’s an ambitious mission but as long as states retain control over the laws in this realm, I am skeptical.
Nevertheless, AWCC’s Action Alerts provide informative updates on various state initiatives affecting wine sales; they’re worth reading and the group is delivering a great service by compiling them for us.