The agony of Victory!

by Stuart Harrison on January 8, 2012

There’s still a lot of celebration today about the Supreme Court victory which forced states to open up their doors to direct wine shipments. Philosophically, the victory has been savored by all of us in our over-regulated industry. Realistically, however, we may have… “Won the battle, and lost the war”. This is particularly true of small producers like Stanfield and Stuart Wine Company and artisan labels like Trivium.

The fact is that for many of us, the Supreme Court ruling has made life a lot more difficult. There used to a dozen or so states for which there were few restrictions, no filing requirements, and minimum fees. Those states are gone now, in the wake of the Supreme Court decision. In those and other states, there are now cumbersome filing requirements and expensive regulatory fees. For large wineries, with revenues and a staff that cover those expenses, it’s more of an administrative and financial nuisance. For artisan producers, desperately needing the direct-to-consumer revenue, the effect is much more devastating. Because of our size, small producers can’t keep up with the paperwork and can’t keep track of the new taxes. Not to mention the fact that there are still a dozen or so states whose laws effectively block direct shipments.

We appreciate the efforts of those who fought hard to overturn the discriminatory practices of states in regards to direct wine shipments. We’re delighted to have won that battle. However, we’re still losing the war of truly gaining access to consumers in states outside California.

Stu Harrison, Partner

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