Joining the battle in favor of home deliveries of wine, several prominent U.S. wine shops have formed a national group of retailers to lobby alongside organizations representing wineries and consumers on the issue of interstate direct shipping.
The members of the Coalition to Preserve Consumer Access to Wine include Sherry-Lehmann, Zachys and Morrell & Co. in New York, Calvert Woodley and MacArthur's in Washington, D.C., and Sam's Wines & Spirits in Chicago. The group grew out of the recent lobbying efforts of several executives at the wine shops to ensure that Congress didn't pass wholesaler-supported legislation this year that would prevent consumers from ordering wine from out-of-state companies.
Michael Aaron, chairman of Sherry-Lehmann, said he and his colleagues felt that the voice of responsible retailers and their customers should be heard on the issue. Winery-supported groups, such as the Wine Institute, the American Vintners Association and Free the Grapes!, have been very vocal in their support of direct shipping, while the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America has backed anti-shipping bills.
"This coalition is an effort to bring together a group of retailers from all over the country who are experiencing the same problems with regard to direct shipments," said former New York state senator Manfred Ohrenstein, who has been hired by the group as a lobbyist. "The retailing of fine wines has become a very major business, particularly in metropolitan regions. [Retailers] have begun to understand how negatively this [anti-shipping] legislation would affect them and how threatening it is to their businesses."
The coalition has set up an office in Washington, D.C., with a toll-free number to encourage new members and contributions. "We do need a vast sum of money to continue this fight," said Aaron. "We're hoping to receive contributions from retailers, wineries and consumers."
The Coalition to Preserve Consumer Access to Wine can be reached at 1201 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 300, Washington D.C. 20004. The phone number is (800) 932-2317.
Read recent reports on direct shipping:
To learn more about retailers' lobbying efforts in New York:
For a complete overview of the direct-shipping issue, read our feature package The Wine Wars.