Restrictive Wine Shipment Laws Under Attack

Politicians who have favored big-contributing beverage distributors and retailers in the past had better watch out – the growing popularity of wine drinking is creating a group of angry voters. In a few states, restrictive wine shipment laws are drawing fire.

Kansas has perhaps the strangest wine shipment law of any state. Kansans can order wine by mail order or over the Web, but the product has to be shipped to a local liquor store. The consumer can then pick it up if they pay a $5 handling fee, as described in Few toast state’s new wine law. As usual, the beverage distributors trot out the theory that absent restrictive laws, minors will start ordering wine over the Internet to satisfy their alcohol cravings. At least one Kansas legislator has a clue:

Sen. Karin Brownlee, an Olathe Republican, said she expects the issue to return to the Legislature once consumers start complaining. Brownlee does not drink, but she said she thinks the new law stifles free enterprise and consumer rights.

“It’s utter nonsense,” she said.

Meanwhile, in the state credited with producing the best wines in the nation (and perhaps the world), legislators were apparently concerned with their residents spending their wine dollars elsewhere. Lawsuits seek to let shops nationwide ship wine here describes challenges to the laws restricting inbound shipments of wine to California residents from other states.

If your state has laws that make it difficult for you to purchase wine over the Web, check out Free the Grapes – this activist site has a mailing list, and forms for sending a targetted communication to your specific legislator(s) about the problem. It’s a pretty smart system – I checked with my own address, and it accurately determined the right lawmaker from my address. Do your part – in the long run, the voters will win this issue if they are vociferous enough.

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