H.R. 5034: a threat to wine shipping

On April 15, a motley coalition of first-year and retiring members of Congress from both parties introduced a bill. The proposed legislation would restrict legal challenges to the interstate shipment of wine. Tom Wark, head of the Specialty Wine Retailers Association, described it as “the most onerous consumer wine law since the passage of the 18th Amendment and the onset of Prohibition.” Wine Spectator obtained a copy of a draft bill written by the National Beer Wholesalers’ Association and compared it to H.R. 5034 and deemed them “largely identical.” (See the bill’s text here.)

Of course, bills get introduced all the time as fobs to political contributors and then they don’t make it very far down the arduous path to becoming law.

We have devised a threat-meter for this particular bill. Normally a bill like this would have zero chance in becoming law before the 111th Congress adjourns. But right now we are one notch above zero (neck level) with a “high shoulder” rating. Why? A few reasons that all boil down to the deep pockets and skill of those behind the legislation.

One worrisome aspect is that in order for the bill to become law, it must get voted out of committee. The bill has been assigned to the House Judiciary committee, chaired by John Conyers from Michigan. Tom Wark has described Michigan as one state whose elected officials are “completely controlled” by wholesalers through their campaign contributions. (Michigan was the losing plaintiff in Granholm v. Heald, the 2005 case that liberalized wine shipments.) Indeed, the National Beer Wholesalers Association was one of the top 5 donors to John Conyers for the past two election cycles.

Hopefully, legislators will see this as the gross overreach that it is on the part of distributors. It would be great if reaction from wine enthusiasts turned the initiative in to the wholesalers’ last stand, legislatively. But that is unlikely.

We will keep you posted here if the threat level changes. You can also join the Facebook group Stop HR5034 (over 1,500 members already) for updates. And in case this bill does go anywhere, hit the comments with your thoughts about who we can send a huge amount of corks to–or other possible steps to effectively make our voices heard.

RH.R.5034 – Comprehensive Alcohol Regulatory Effectiveness (CARE) Act of 2010. Sponsors are Rep. Bill Delehunt (D) MA; Rep. Howard Coble (R) NC; Rep. Mike Quigley (D) IL; Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R) UT

Related: Wine Politics: How Governments, Environmentalists, Mobsters, and Critics Influence the Wines We Drink

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19 Responses to “H.R. 5034: a threat to wine shipping”

  1. […] also read Alder Yarrow’s (Vinography) take here and Tyler Colman’s (aka Dr. Vino) take here (along with a great threat meter).  Wine Spectator has also gotten into the […]

  2. Love the threat meter !

  3. Remember, we have the best congress that money can buy.

  4. […] Vino calms us down with an info-graphic for determining the threat level of the HR 5034 bill. It’s cool. We’re just at “high shoulder” […]

  5. […] the bill itself, or how the overall community is reacting to the bill (see also, here, here, and here). What I want to tell you about is my personal reaction and how this would affect […]

  6. Thanks, Alder, glad you like it!

  7. […] H.R. 5034: a threat to wine shipping Posted by lperdue on Apr 21st, 2010 and filed under News Briefs, Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed. […]

  8. I live in Washington state, where there are a lot of wineries, both big and small. I know for certain that many of the smaller wineries would tank if this became law. I have to admit to being so tired of politicians and the way they like to dabble with my freedoms.

  9. A great interpreteation of the bill, and depiction of potential threat. I can’t see how this would pass. It’s been 20 yeas since I studied UCC law, but this would directly impact the free trade of various businesses, those small wineries Katie mentioned for sure, which is directly opposed to the UCC.

    That being said, there’s no reason to rest on laurels and hope the threat meter doesn’t move downwards. Taking action by contacting your local representatives and taking a stance against the bill can only help the cause!


  10. […] legislation.  While it is unclear whether this bill will make it out of committee to a full vote (Tyler Colman thinks there is a strong chance) ,  or whether companion legislation will appear in the Senate, it must be stopped in its tracks […]

  11. Here’s a satirical video about HR5034 (which I think has only a slim chance of passing out of committee, btw). Stay tuned for the punch line at the end!


  12. […] APRIL 20, 2010: Tyler Colman, Dr. Vino […]

  13. […] Lefevere, Good Grape; Jeff Siegel, The Wine Curmudgeon; WineCompass; Joe Smith, KGW; Tyler Colman, Dr. Vino; Wine Business; VintubaTV; Paul Franson, Wines & Vines; Match Vineyards; Tom Wark, […]

  14. Lets just pray that this bill doesn’t pass.

  15. […] SPIT: HR 5034 A hearing before a subcomittee about HR 5034 has been postponed, hopefully indefinitely. We maintain our existing threat level. […]

  16. Another great website is http://www.freethegrapes.org which allows individuals to send customized (or previously drafted) letters to their congressional representatives who are in support of HR 5034.

  17. […] wholesalers of beer, wine and spirits have initiated a legislative campaign to freeze wine shipping laws as they are. While this effort seems be going nowhere, they will […]

  18. […] favorite shipped to your home.  Other interested people like George Bato, Bruce Cass and Dr. Vino have also expressed great concern over H.R. […]

  19. […] year, a rag-tag coalition introduced a piece of legislation that threatened wine shipments. It’s not even Halloween but the scary news is that, like Poltergeist II, this horror show is […]


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