The Herald Bulletin

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Columns

August 24, 2013

Howard Hewitt: Laws on shipping wine in Indiana could be outdated

Anyone who has tried to buy wine at a winery, take a special bottle to a restaurant or buy wine on a Sunday knows Indiana’s laws are confusing and restrictive.

Neighboring states aren’t much better. Indiana and Kentucky prevent direct winery-to-consumer shipping while Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio allow it. All four of those states allow Sunday sales while Indiana does not.

The American Wine Consumer Coalition, Washington D.C. issued a report and grade for all 50 states. It’s called "Consuming Concerns: The 2013 State-by-State Report Card on Consumer Access to Wine."

The forward in the report bemoans the existence of laws ‘from the 1930s that are still "in place in most states, despite a cultural, economic and commercial reality that is starkly different (today)."

David Honig, a wine writer, publisher of one of the country’s biggest online wine magazine – Palate Press – and attorney, says the laws make no sense unless viewed through the lens of distributor protection.

“A wine lover can have their favorite bottled shipped to them, but only if (a) they've been to the vineyard or winery in person, and (b) left a copy of their Indiana Driver's License, and (c) the winery has an Indiana shipping license, and (d) only if the winery does not have a distributor in the state,” Honig said. “These laws don't protect minors from their plans to set aside the usual adolescent need for instant gratification to order an expensive vintage for delivery in a week or two. Nor do they protect Hoosiers from bathtub gin or other adulterated hooch.

"They don't even keep the streets, playgrounds, and schoolyards safe from Hillside Select swilling bums, hiding their $250 bottles in plain brown bags. They protect distributors, the top tier in the three-tier system, from suffering the indignity of seeing somebody enjoy a bottle of wine without getting a cut.”

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