Thursday, October 08, 2015

The three-tier system.

So Vinomaker and I have a fairly frequent conversation that goes something like this;
VM: "Hey, it's Whatchamacallit's birthday, can you send him/her a bottle of TWWIAGE Cabernet Sauvignon?"
VG: "No, I can't."
VM: "Why can't you?"
VG: "Because I'd be committing a felony if I shipped a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon to Whosit in, e.g., Pennsylvania."
VM: "Well, that's stupid!"
Yes, it would be a felony for me to ship wine into Pennsylvania and, yes, it is stupid.  But that is the current state of affairs when trying to navigate the shipping/distribution laws in the US.
Tonight's wine marketing class concentrated on the unique, and arcane, wine distribution system in the United States.  Simply put, the 'three-tier system' came into existence with the repeal of Prohibition (in 1933) which gave each state control over the sale and distribution of alcohol, (the three-tier system refers to the producers, distributors and retailers of wine).  And that is the way it continues to work to this day, with no real incentive to change the system in the states where the distributor has a monopoly (and the politicians like the status quo).  So, no, Thingamajig cannot have a birthday bottle of wine: I like my liberty too much.
It is much less complicated, in the US, to make wine than sell it.

4 comments:

Dennis Tsiorbas said...

The State of NH made something like 2 billion dollars on liquor sales last year, and I doubt, for a State of about 1.2 million people, that it or its citizens would want to let that 'cow' go!

Thomas said...

"It is much less complicated, in the US, to make wine than sell it."

And it's simpler to get your hands on high-powered weapons from outside your state than it is to get a bottle of wine. The reason: there were no alcohol lobbyists with total control of Congress in 1933, the year of Repeal. Instead, there were mealy congressional reps willing to appease corrupt state legislators.

Thud said...

Can you send a bottle to whatshisface?

Vinogirl said...

NHW: Yes, billions of dollars and that's just NH. There are a lot of other cows in other states!

Tomasso: Yes, it is a fact that it is easier to ship explosives across state lines than it is to ship fermented grape juice. Crazy, but true.

Thud: Sure, where does he live?