Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Consumers looking for a voice...

Last week, the American Wine Consumer Coalition launched. The organization, led by Tom Wark and David White (among others) is set to give a voice to the people most affected by the wide array of wine regulations, but are regularly ignored during the process of creating those laws. If you've ever been told you can't drink a certain wine just because you live in a certain state, the AWCC (sounds more like an athletic conference, but other acronyms are probably worse) is for you. Here is the group's manifesto:

The unique needs and desires of the American wine consumer have for too long been ignored by lawmakers as special interest groups have used the legal and regulatory system to protect their own interests at the expense of consumers. This is neither fair nor in the interest of the wine consumer. Wine consumers have the right to be heard, to be part of the entire process devoted to the regulation of wine and to have access to the broad range of products in the national marketplace. Anything less is unacceptable.
  • Wine Consumers ought to have the legal right to purchase the wines they want as long as a licensed entity agrees to sell them the wine.
  • Wine Consumers deserve a well-regulated marketplace designed to give them access to the wines they want.
  • Wine Consumers have a right to be consulted on the creation and passage of state and federal laws that impact their access to wines.
  • Wine consumers ought to have the legal right to have shipped to their home or place of work wines they legally purchased in-state or out-of-state.
  • Wine Consumers ought to have the right to carry with them or ship home a reasonable amount of wine they’ve purchased and legally own after visiting an out-of-state wine region.
  • Wine Consumers and their interests must be accounted for equally alongside those of producers, wholesalers and retailers when legislation and alcohol policy is considered.
Specifically for Colorado residents, consider the following that it is illegal for you to receive a shipment of wine from an out-of-state retailer, you are not allowed bringing your own bottle of wine to your favorite restaurant and only one location of a chain grocer is allowed to sell wine. Some people feel that allowing grocery store sales would hurt the small, boutique local wineries, but I personally (not in any association with my employment with the State of Colorado) think that the ability to deal with fewer buyers rather than a different buyer for ever licensed retailer might help local wineries with distribution. Retailers also have to buy wine from a wholesaler (luckily CO wineries can operate as their own wholesaler) and cannot buy directly from West Coast wineries; further restricting what wines you have access to. A few things have slowly started to change in the Centennial State. Only in the last few years has Colorado allowed sales on Sundays and we can now bring unfinished bottles of wine home from a restaurant!

But we still have a long way to go to catch up to much of the rest of the country. The AWCC is determined to make consumers' voices part of the wildly secretive and out-of-date system that determines how, where and what we can drink.

So, consider joining and supporting the American Wine Consumer Coalition. Then, help by spreading the word on Facebook and Twitter. You can follow the AWCC at @wineconsumers and Facebook.com/AmericanWineConsumerCoalition.


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