Wine consumers want a say in the US

20th June, 2013 by Catherine Seda Bugue

The newly formed American Wine Consumer Coalition is a non-profit organisation created to represent the interests of US wine consumers and their ability to purchase alcohol.

AWCC logoThe drinks business spoke with Tom Wark, executive director of the AWCC, about the organisation’s creation and its goal in dealing with the complicated array of regulations which ban, to different degrees, actions such as winery shipments, retailer shipments, and buying wine in grocery shops in states across the country.

New laws and regulations, says Wark, are created with the input of wineries, retailers, wholesalers and end up representing the interests of the alcohol beverage trade, not the consumers. “Consumers have had no voice” Wark continued, “that ends today.”

Wark pointed to a legal situation where the consumer was directly affected: In 2011, the US Congress held hearings on a bill, HR 1161, which put direct shipments from wineries to consumers under attack. If passed, the bill would have fundamentally changed consumers’ access to wine, yet not a single consumer was invited to testify before Congress.

While inroads are being made today, the AWCC says changes are slow to come, and shared a summary of continuing restrictions:

• 11 states still ban residents from having wine shipped to them from out of state wineries

• 36 states still ban residents from having wine shipped to them from out of state retailers

• 17 states still ban residents from buying wine in grocery stores

• 4 states ban the purchase of wine on Sundays

• 2 states control the sale of wine, rather than allowing its residents to buy their wine in a free and open marketplace

• 15 states ban residents from bringing a bottle from home into a restaurant.

Adding the consumer’s voice to these and other alcohol-related issues is at the top of the organisation’s goals. The AWCC is looking to create regional chapters which represent wine consumers in state houses, on the federal level, and with state alcohol regulatory commissions.

AWCC Tom Wark

The AWCC’s executive director Tom Wark

If the AWCC has its way, when consumers find that rare bottle of Inglenook or a hard-to-find Shafer Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon on an online shop whose physical location is several states away, they won’t have to gas up the car if they live in Texas, Florida, New York and other states where shipping across state lines is prohibited. If a visitor to Napa Valley wants the winery to ship bottles to his or her Massachusetts home, they will be able to do so.

While the AWCC is focused on giving consumers a voice, the drinks business asked Wark about the economics behind winery and retailer shipments, and grocery store wine sales. Wark acknowledged that in many cases, monetising their value is “hard to impossible” to do; the figures don’t exist. He relayed the story, however, of an Illinois retailer, who after the ban of retailer direct shipping in that state in 2007, showed a loss of $1 million in sales. Earlier this year, ShipCompliant and Wines & Vines published a joint 2013 Direct Shipping report, putting a value of winery direct shipments at US$1.46 billion dollars in 2012.

Wine consumers have been speaking with their wallets, and now the AWCC gives them a voice.

The AWCC is a member organisation with a yearly fee of $35. Included with this fee are numerous discounts on wine education, wine events, wine publications (such as a year’s free subscription to the CA Connoisseurs Guide to Wine) and wine accessories.

More information can be found at www.wineconsumers.org.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to our newsletters

Job vacancies

Wine Buyer

Conviviality Plc
Crewe, UK

Sales Account Manager - On-Trade

Berkmann Wine Cellars
Liverpool

Sales Account Manager - On-Trade

Berkmann Wine Cellars
M3/M4 corridor

Media Sales Manager - Hong Kong

The Drinks Business Hong Kong
Hong Kong

Regional Account Manager

New Generation McKinley
London, UK

Experienced Sales Account Manager – On Trade

Cantina Goccia
London and the south, UK

National Sales Manager – Premium Drinks

Core Recruitment
London based with national travel

Wine Trainee

Stone, Vine & Sun
Twyford, near Winchester, Hampshire

Senior Technologist - Drinks

Conviviality Group
London, UK

Procurement Manager

JF Hillebrand Global Beverage Logistics
Essex, UK

Porter & Laker Manager

Porter & Laker
Essex, UK

Sales Manager & Brand Ambassador - Southwest

Salcombe Distilling Co.
Southwest of England - reporting to Salcombe HQ, GB

Head of Marketing

ATOM Supplies
Tunbridge Wells, Kent, UK

The Global Merlot Masters 2017

Deadline : 24th February 2017

The Prosecco Masters 2017

Deadline : 10th March 2017

db Awards 2017

Deadline : 28th April 2017

The Global Organic Masters 2017

Deadline : 3rd March 2017

Click to view more

The Global Sparkling Masters

the drinks business is thrilled to announce the launch of The Global Sparkling Masters

The Global Rosé Masters 2016

the drinks business is proud to announce the launch of the Global Rosé Masters 2016.

The Prosecco Masters 2016

Now in its third year, the competition will reflect the growth in popularity of this fresh and exciting sparkling wine from the picturesque regions of Veneto and Friuli.

The Global Pinot Noir Masters 2016

After the success of last year’s competition that judged over 250 wines from no less than 16 countries, the drinks business is proud to announce the third year of the Global Pinot Noir Masters

Click to view more