in Houston, Texas
Texas state crackdown on online wine sales squelches shipments to Lone Star State, down 30 percent in one quarter
Friday, Oct 21, 2011, 10:43AM CST
By Mark Lisheron
wine rack

Please do not forget the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission in your prayers tonight for protecting you from the demon grape.

No, not the wine you can get in the grocery store, the liquor store, the restaurant or bar. Nor the wine you can drink and buy at one of the state’s more than 200 wineries or the more than 1,000 wineries outside of Texas licensed to ship wine directly to customers.

We’re talking about a crackdown on online wine retailers bearing the unmistakable imprint of Texas alcohol lawmaking outlined in a story today by the Austin American-Statesman.

For years the Texas Legislature was persuaded (with the able assistance of the liquor lobby) to block out-of-state wineries from shipping directly to customers, until they were persuaded otherwise in 2005 by the Supreme Court.

And while we are fairly awash in wine sold to us by retailers here, the Legislature chose not to allow for outside retailers like Wine.com any way of obtaining a permit to ship wine that otherwise could be shipped legally and directly by the wineries themselves.

With the cooperation of the major shipping companies, investigators for the Beverage Commission began blocking wine mailings. Shipments dropped from roughly 51,000 in March to 35,000 in June, according to the story.

This prompted Wine.com this month to tell its 30,000 customers in Texas it was temporarily suspending its online bootlegging.

But in case the point of a law directed at what might be about 1 percent of the state’s total wine market has been missed, Rich Bergsund, CEO for Wine.com, says he hopes to satisfy our state regulators by setting up a distribution warehouse in Houston.

Sounds like a celebration for an economic stimulus plan for Houston and a state revenue generator is in order. Garcon, bottles of fully-permitted, legislatively-approved, state-retailed wine for everyone!
 
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Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or mark@texaswatchdog.org or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

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Photo of wine rack by flickr user marcusjroberts, used via a Creative Commons license.
Comments
Elizabeth
Monday, 10/24/2011 - 10:11AM

Luckily, you can still have wine shipped directly from many out-of-state wineries.

CitizenPatriot
Thursday, 10/27/2011 - 02:08PM

This law is so confusing, that many out of state retailers are afraid to ship to Texas. I, as most Texans should believe that our individual liberties are being infringed upon. This was to give Texas Wineries and Retailers less competition by the local lobbyists paying for votes. That maybe fine and all, but, the consequences are Texans are restricted from making their own decisions as to how or where they spend their money.

Martha Noell
Saturday, 11/05/2011 - 02:40PM

I'm in a wine club and in the tourism business. This could come back and bite the Texas wine industry in the you-know-what! Our club visits Texas wineries annually and out of state wineries annually. We spend lots of money...transportation, lodging for 15+, dining, and of course we buy wine. WINE IS A TOURISM BUSINESS! Texas wine lobbies need to not be greedy. It's stupid to think that anyone that knows anything about wine will not want to explore wine elsewhere, that's like buying duplicates of clothes and wearing the same thing everyday. Texas vineyards have become big business, because of tourism. What if California decided to quit selling them grapes, as we can't produce enough for the demand and for the blending many do. 'Nuf said!

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