Free the Grapes!, a group of consumers, vintners and others involved in the wine industry, kicked off its "Uncork Consumer Access to Fine Wine" campaign on Saturday at the Napa Valley Wine Auction by signing up wine lovers and collecting corks. The group then presented a barrel of stoppers to U.S. Congressman Mike Thompson, D-Calif., a founder of the Congressional Wine Caucus and supporter of direct shipping.
"The Congressional Wine Caucus has been working hard to educate our colleagues on the real issues of direct shipping providing consumer access and protecting the ability of small wineries to conduct business," said Thompson at the event. "We are pleased to be receiving constituent support for our efforts."
In late May, the Senate approved an amendment to a juvenile-justice bill that gives states the authority to seek injunctions in federal court to enforce their bans on home deliveries. The amendment, sponsored by Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., is backed by many alcoholic-beverage wholesalers, whose businesses may be threatened by the growth in Internet, phone and mail-order sales of wine.
The juvenile-justice bill has moved to a House committee for debate this week. While Thompson and wine caucus co-founder Rep. George Radanovich, R-Calif., are fighting any attempts to include the Byrd amendment, Rep. Robert Ehrlich, R-Md., plans to introduce a separate, similar bill on direct shipping.
Free the Grapes! is promoting its cork campaign on its Web site (www.freethegrapes.org), where visitors can find the addresses of their legislators along with a sample letter to include with the corks.
For more on federal shipping legislation:
For recent state legislative news:
For a comprehensive look at the direct shipping issue:
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