robert taylor

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Blogs  :  Mixed Case: Opinion and Advice

Why Can't Pennsylvania Get a Little Privacy?

Privatized alcohol sales looked like a lock in the Keystone State a few months ago; now opponents appear to have the upper hand

Posted: May 30, 2013  By Robert Taylor

The last time you had friends over, you probably made a run to the supermarket for supplies before playing the good host. If you live in Pennsylvania, it wasn't so easy. You drove to the supermarket, you drove to the state beer distributor and you drove to the state wine and spirits store. Pennsylvania is one of the few remaining "control" states, meaning that the state exerts direct control over alcohol sales.

Sound like a wasteful, inconvenient and costly hassle?

Most Pennsylvanians think so. The governor and lieutenant governor think so. Most of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives thinks so. Labor unions do not, however, and their full-throated opposition has stymied a proposal to privatize alcohol sales in the state Senate. Despite all the initial support, the longer the debate drags on, the further Pennsylvania seems to be from privatizing its alcohol distribution and sales. For the consumer, that means limited selection and more hassle.

Blogs  :  Mixed Case: Opinion and Advice

No Slowing the Winery Direct Shipping Movement

Direct-to-consumer wine sales jumped dramatically again in 2012, to the tune of $1.46 billion

Posted: May 2, 2013  By Robert Taylor

The numbers are in and, as expected, 2012 was another banner year for winery direct-to-consumer shipping. American wineries shipped nearly 3.2 million cases of wine directly to consumers’ front doors in 2012, at a value of $1.46 billion.

That’s a 7.7 percent increase in volume and a 10 percent increase in value over 2011. Not only are Americans buying more wine straight from the cellar, we’re buying more expensive wine—at an average price of $38.42 per bottle, up from $37.63 in 2011 and $36.56 in 2010.

$1.46 billion, with a B, is an eye-popping sum. But these numbers, presented in an annual report issued in April by ShipCompliant and Wines & Vines, shouldn’t surprise anyone who’s been following the decade-plus-long fight to make winery direct shipping legal across the United States. Today it’s permitted in 39 states, and a look at a few newcomers confirms that wine lovers love having the option to buy straight from the winery, especially smaller wineries that aren’t carried by local wholesalers.

Rep. Theodore Speliotis has introduced House Bill 294, which would allow local and out-of-state wineries, after applying for a $100 state permit, to ship up to 24 cases of wine a year to Massachusetts residents. Sen. Daniel Wolf has co-sponsored the bill, crafted with the assistance of the Wine Institute, a winery advocacy organization.

And now the bill's proponents have a new secret weapon: former Patriots quarterback-turned-Washington vintner Drew Bledsoe.

News & Features  :  News

New York Faces New Wine Sales Restrictions

Consumers could have fewer choices if legislation squeezes small wholesalers, while State Liquor Authority forbids some third-party wine sales

Posted: April 25, 2013  By Robert Taylor

Blogs  :  Mixed Case: Opinion and Advice

The Rules of Tasting-Room Etiquette

A friendly guide from winery tasting-room managers, including what not to bring: bad attitudes, strong perfumes, small children, handguns …

Posted: April 11, 2013  By Robert Taylor

We had our first 70-plus-degree day in New York this week, the wildflowers are blooming in Napa Valley after a chilly early spring, and winery tasting rooms across the country are playing host to more and more tourists by the day. Those visitors are a huge source of wine-country income, but they can also be a huge headache when they don't abide by proper tasting-room decorum.

Rep. Theodore Speliotis has introduced House Bill 294, which would allow local and out-of-state wineries, after applying for a $100 state permit, to ship up to 24 cases of wine a year to Massachusetts residents. Sen. Daniel Wolf has co-sponsored the bill, crafted with the assistance of the Wine Institute, a winery advocacy organization.

And now the bill's proponents have a new secret weapon: former Patriots quarterback-turned-Washington vintner Drew Bledsoe.

News & Features  :  Seasonal

One Wining Moment: The 2013 Final Four Taste-Off

Wine Spectator's annual March Madness competition puts wineries from Kansas, Kentucky, New York and Michigan in the spotlight

Posted: April 5, 2013  By Robert Taylor, Ben O'Donnell

March 31, 2013 Issue  :  News

Gifting Wine Via Facebook

Posted: March 31, 2013  By Robert Taylor

Blogs  :  Mixed Case: Opinion and Advice

Has Massachusetts Winery Shipping Legislation Finally Reached the Red Zone?

Patriots QB-turned-vintner Drew Bledsoe is under center in the drive to pass House Bill 294

Posted: March 21, 2013  By Robert Taylor

Will this be the year that Massachusetts, the seventh-largest wine-consuming state, finally gets a legitimate winery-to-consumer shipping bill? Hopes are high in the Bay State, despite repeated setbacks: The state's most recent direct-shipping law passed in 2005 and, not long afterward, was ruled unconstitutional. The preceding law had been declared unconstitutional as well.

Rep. Theodore Speliotis has introduced House Bill 294, which would allow local and out-of-state wineries, after applying for a $100 state permit, to ship up to 24 cases of wine a year to Massachusetts residents. Sen. Daniel Wolf has co-sponsored the bill, crafted with the assistance of the Wine Institute, a winery advocacy organization.

And now the bill's proponents have a new secret weapon: former Patriots quarterback-turned-Washington vintner Drew Bledsoe.

Blogs  :  Mixed Case: Opinion and Advice

You Can't Buy That From Here

Wineries can ship a bottle of wine to consumers in 39 states and counting. So why are retailer shipping rights going in the opposite direction?

Posted: February 26, 2013  By Robert Taylor

We Americans have access to more wines today than ever before. Your local wholesaler carries a vast array of wines from which your local retailers select their inventory. If you can't find what you want that way, in 39 states and Washington, D.C., you can order a bottle from a winery in another state. Wherever you live, you could likely drink a different bottle of wine every day for the rest of your life. Call me greedy, but I don’t think that’s enough.

Say you're trying to track down a bottle you want from Wine Spectator's annual Top 100 Wines of the Year: 69 percent of the Top 100 wines from 2006 to 2012 were imported.

Your local wholesaler or state liquor authority decides which, if any, of those imported wines are available to you. If they don't offer it, and you live anywhere other than the 14 states, plus the District of Columbia, that permit out-of-state retailers to ship directly to consumers, you're out of luck.

Blogs  :  Mixed Case: Opinion and Advice

National Fight Over Retailer Wine-Shipping Resurfaces in Nebraska

Are new measures to restrict online wine sales a sign of more struggles to come?

Posted: February 21, 2013  By Robert Taylor

After years of legal struggles culminating in a 2005 Supreme Court decision, wine lovers in 39 states, plus the District of Columbia, can buy directly from out-of-state wineries. The trend seems to be to continue removing restrictions: Massachusetts and Pennsylvania are considering bills to become the 40th and 41st states to permit wineries to ship directly to their residents.

But for U.S. retailers, the trend has gone in the opposite direction. Only 14 states currently permit their residents to order wine from out-of-state retailers, down from 18 states in 2005. Now, Nebraska is considering a bill that would hamper retailer shipping, which has been legal there since 1992, and require retailers to have their list of brand offerings pre-approved by the state’s liquor control commission.

Nebraska State Senator Russ Karpisek introduced Legislative Bill 230 in January, which would have limited direct shipping to "manufacturers" (wineries) only. Nebraska's original law—among the earliest measures addressing direct shipping—permitted “persons” licensed to sell alcohol to obtain a shipping license, wording chosen long before online wine retailers became a force in the market.

Blogs  :  Mixed Case: Opinion and Advice

Direct Effects

A state-mandated study of winery direct shipping in Maryland yielded overwhelmingly positive results for consumers and the government

Posted: January 29, 2013  By Robert Taylor

When Maryland state comptroller Peter Franchot presented a "Study on the Impact of Direct Wine Shipment" to the state's General Assembly this past December, it confirmed everything direct-shipping proponents have been saying since the 1980s: Direct shipping offers consumers greater choice, brings more tax revenue in for the state, and poses no credible risk of increased underage drinking.

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