Illinois Wine Consumers Fight Alcohol Lobby, Bad Laws

I write from Indiana, which has laws which severely restrict direct shipping of wine. How do these laws get passed? It’s simple – distributors of alcoholic beverages have a vested interest in being the only way for wineries to get to consumers, and they contribute heavily to the politicians that pass such laws. Now, our neighbors in Illinois are picking up the gauntlet and organizing to pressure politicians to act in the interest of the consumer. They have formed the Illinois Wine Consumer Coalition (IWCC). From their press release:

Illinois wine consumers were stripped of their right to purchase wine from out-of-state wine retailers in 2008. The passage of HB 429 removed this right after Illinoisans had enjoyed full access to the American wine market for 15 years. The fact that consumers were never taken into account during deliberations over HB 429 helped give impetus to the creation of the IWCC…

“The recent restrictions on consumer access to wine in Illinois that resulted from HB 429 were clearly nothing more than payoff to the well-heeled Illinois alcohol distributors, the only group that benefits from restricting access to wine,” said XXXX. “In the past five years Illinois alcohol distributors have given more than $3.5 million dollars in political contributions in the past five years to help grease the wheel’s of anti-consumer wine legislation.”

I’m excited to see consumers organizing in this way, and I hope they can make some headway against the special interests that craft these bad laws. All too often, one hears the logic that, “minors will buy wine illegally if wineries can direct ship to consumers.” Do we really think teens will order up a $30 Pinot Noir so they can get high?

Visit the IWCC website and offer your support!

5 thoughts on “Illinois Wine Consumers Fight Alcohol Lobby, Bad Laws

  1. Marc Stubblefield

    Thanks for noticing!

    I’m a director of the IWCC, and we’re hoping to round up a few thousand signatures in the next few weeks, and press our consumer advantage.

    You make note of the under-age access argument; despite the fact that research has show this doesn’t hold up, it’s a non-factor in the Illinois situation. IL already allows shipping from in-state retailers, in-state wineries, and out-of-state wineries – compliance with age verification is not an problem in these cases. The only prohibition is against out of state retailers – clearly an anti-consumer, pro-distributor stance. THIS is what we want to change!

    All you IL folks out there – come join the fight!

    -Marc

    Reply
  2. Gretchen Neuman

    Thank you so much for your post in support of the Illinois Wine Consumers Coalition.

    We agree that the excuses being used to justify the stranglehold of the small number of distributors that control what wines consumers can purchase (and subsequently the price paid) are absurd.

    We’re hoping that with enough voices, enough signatures on the petition, we can get the attention of our legislators and change this anti-consumer law.

    We urge everyone who agrees with us to visit our website at http://www.illinoiswineconsumers.org and sign up, sign the petition, and most importantly, share this info with your Illinois wine drinking friends! As little as a few thousand names can really make our voice heard – we need your help.

    Anyone with questions, ideas for us, want to get more involved, or would like to donate in support of IWCC should send us an email at info@illinoiswineconsumers.org.

    The legal tide is turning in our favor – now is our time to make a difference and bring choice back to Illinois’s wine drinking consumers!

    Reply
  3. Wine Blog

    The demolition of the three tier system will only hurt the consumer in the end. Distributors are the ones who promote lesser known brands and bring them into the market place. Without distributors we would have no selection in wine shops. Yes we would be able to order everything online but this takes the fun out of shopping for wine in a wine shop.

    Reply
  4. Roger Post author

    Utter poppycock, WB. As with all consumer products, in-person retail will continue to be the major venue for wine purchases. Indeed, I would expect to make only a small percentage of my buys online – shipping cost is a consideration for a product that is moderately heavy and requires special packaging. And, like most wine hobbyists, I enjoy browsing wines in wine shops. It irks me tremendously, though, that politicians (who, I assure you, couldn’t care less about wine consumers when they vote on these laws) can be influenced by donations from distributors.

    Reply
  5. Rob Shinn

    This law is unconstitutional. There is only ONE entity with the power to regulate interstate commerce, and that is the Congress.

    Reply

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