Proposed Illinois Legislation on Wine Direct Shipping:

Illinois appears primed to enact legislation that would effectively eliminate direct shipment of wine by requiring purchasers to first purchase wine in person before being eligible to buy wine directly:

A bill in Springfield, backed by a major distributors' group, would restrict Illinois wineries' right to sell wine over the Internet, through the mail or by telephone. Distributors say the bill is necessary in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year -- and to prevent sales to minors. But Illinois wine-makers say distributors are trying to choke competition.

"It would be a disaster for the Illinois wineries," said Fred Koehler, president of Lynfred Winery in Roselle. "It's like Goliath against these little farm wineries that are trying to survive."

Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois, a Springfield-based industry group, pushed the legislation, introduced in the House and Senate earlier this month. ABDI Executive Vice President Bill Olson said the state's wineries have used a loophole to escape regulation. The wine bill "hits a middle ground," Olson said.

"The key word here is 'a face-to-face sale,' which is the primary mechanism against underage sales," Olson said.

The proposed law would bar shipments to purchasers in Illinois unless they first bought wine in person. After the initial purchase, wineries would be allowed to ship two cases per buyer each year.

Johnny Upton (mail):
This has the unmistakable stench of one William ($Bill to his friends) W. Wirtz all over it.

$Bill is a real big fan of the First Amendment and the Commerce Clause.
1.12.2006 11:07pm
Zoiks! Time to write the state rep and senator!

This is not about the Illinois wineries. Under current law we Illinoisans can buy wine online from producers in tastier parts of the country. Since thelaw must now treat in-state and out-of-state wineries equally, they're looking to impose flights to California on us, not drives downstate.
1.12.2006 11:44pm
Kevin Murphy:
Not exactly narrowly tailored, at least not for the purported purpose. A driver's license scan would be as valid a proof, since both methods allow false internet users to about the same degree. Yet markedly less restrictive.
1.13.2006 2:47am
John Anderson:
Hmm. One shipper from whom I bought cigarettes gave instructions to UPS that I must receive the package myself (I usually have stuff dropped at the apartment complex ofice) and verify that I was over 18. Would that be sufficient? Seems so to me.
1.13.2006 6:03am
uh clem (mail):
Let me get this right: If I fly to Napa and do a winery tour, buying a bottle from each vinyard then I can then buy up to two cases a year from each of them. But if I don't have the money to fly to Napa, I can't. Can you say legislation that favors the wealthy?

Granted, the purpose of the legislation is to prootect local wineries from out of state competition (the underage drinking smokescreen notwithstanding) loopholes for those that can afford them are quite annoying (even if I'm one of the ones who can afford it in this case).
1.13.2006 10:02am
PD Shaw (mail):
At first blush, the exemption following a face-to-face sale would appear to disproportionately advantage Illinois wineries. But the Illinois wineries are generally far from the population centers of the State and Missouri wineries are probably closer (and possibly have a better reputation?).
1.13.2006 10:22am
Not to protect local wineries - to protect distributors and liquor store chains. Like trying to protect Blockbuster by requiring a visit in person before signing up for a mail-based movie service (try complying with that rule with Netflix!). Hey, both rent R-rated movies, right? They should verify the renter's age in person . . .
1.13.2006 11:06am
B. B.:
This will really irk some people at my firm who are big wine fans and have wine shipped from some of their favorites in California and the Pacific NW. Commenter who says this smacks of Bill Wirtz is absolutely right.

And seriously, as a person not all that far removed from the college scene, I can say for a fact that virtually no one underage is trying to buy wine direct from wineries. They barely drink wine at all, and certainly not at the cost it would be to buy and ship wine. They drink cheap hard liquor and cheap beer, in large quantities. The only wine cheap enough to compete with that stuff is boxes of Franzia and the like, which is even worse than the cheap beer. Reality is a nice smack in the face to the "we need to make sure the buyers are 21" reasoning.
1.13.2006 12:38pm
pst314 (mail):
"Not to protect local wineries - to protect distributors and liquor store chains"

Exactly. For instance, the "Illinois Wine and Spirits Fair Dealing Act" was designed to shield existing large distributors from free market competition, preventing customers from changing distributors in order to get better prices, better service. Not even failure to fulfil contracts was legally grounds to switch distributors. Illinois has its share of scummy legislators.
1.14.2006 11:03am