The Robert Mondavi Winery is trying to do just that with its new "Locate a Retailer" section on its Web site at www.robertmondavi.com. But in mid-January, the California Alcohol Beverage Control agency forced the winery to shut down its retailer search function for a week.
The California ABC found that parts of the site violated California's "Tied House" law. "One section of the law states that manufacturers cannot have direct relationships with retailers," said Alma Yamada, investigator with the ABC. "Mondavi's Web site, since it advertises a list of retailers, is essentially benefiting one retailer over another."
That wasn't Mondavi's intent, according to Jennifer Becker, vice president of direct marketing for the winery. "We're not recommending particular retailers, we're just displaying them in a customer-friendly way," she said. "We receive thousands of calls each year from consumers trying to track down our wines."
Searches can be made by clicking onto different labels of the Mondavi portfolio to reveal a list of retailers, but only in eight states, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, New York, Texas, Virginia and Washington, as well as Washington, D.C.
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