Winery attempts to pull wines from NRA wine club

A wine club whose profits benefit the NRA has triggered outrage: Yalumba of South Australia has requested their wines removed from the club’s wine shop.

“Philosophically, I’m not disposed towards the NRA, which runs counter to my family’s, and I would think all my employees’, positions on gun laws,” CEO Robert Hill Smith was quoted in Australia’s Herald Sun. He is taking steps to remove the four Yalumba wines offered on the site. This incident underscores the mediated nature of sales in the wine industry where a winery may not even fully realize the final points of sale of their wines.

Profits from the wine club benefit the NRA. In a signed welcome letter, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre writes, “Your purchase will directly benefit the NRA’s continuing support of America’s Right to Keep and Bear Arms and the other basic freedoms of the American Culture.”

The wine club is run by Vinesse, which operates several wine clubs. This club raises several questions: which types of organizations should (or should not) profit from the sale of wine/alcohol? Do other wineries know that their wines are among the 476 offered on the site and will they follow Yalumba’s lead and seek to have them removed? A smattering of selections follows after the jump:

2010 Terlato & Chapoutier Victoria, Western Victoria, Australia Shiraz/Viognier
2009 Darioush ‘Caravan’ Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
2009 Frogs Leap Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
2010 Georges Duboeuf ‘Moulin-au-Vent’ Dom. Beaujolais, France Gamay
NV Roederer Est Brut Rose
Alfred Gratien Cuvee Brut Classique Champagne
Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin ‘Yellow Label’ Brut Champagne
2009 La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
2005 Guigal Chateaneuf du Pape France Red Blend
2010 Conundrum California White Table Wine
2006 Silver Oak Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
2007 Sierra Cantabria Crianza Rioja, Spain Tempranillo
NV Henriot (France) Brut Souverain Champagne
2010 Woop Woop South Australia Cabernet Sauvignon
2010 Crios Mendoza, Argentina Malbec
2008 Paitin di Pasquero-Elia Barbaresco Serra Nebbiolo
2008 Napanook by Dominus Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
2006 Thibault Liger-Belair Nuits-Saint-Georges ‘Les Saint Georges’

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21 Responses to “Winery attempts to pull wines from NRA wine club”

  1. I am not a fan of the NRA stand on guns. Since they profit from sales of the NRA Wine Club, I would hope other importers and wineries who share my beliefs would ask that their wines also be removed. Bravo Yalumba.

  2. I am no fan of the NRA, but this is a more difficult situation that it seems. If Bill’s Wine and Spirits puts a sign in it’s window that says “2% of profits will be donated to the NRA,” should wineries ask their distributors not to put their wines there? What if the sign says they will donate to pro-life groups? Or to Planned Parenthood? What if Bill doesn’t tell the customers ahead of time, but then makes a large contribution from the store’s earnings after the fact? Do wineries want to be in the business of policing that?

  3. Ron – Thanks for your comment.

    Michael – That’s exactly the broader question that this highlights: should wineries take steps to curb the sale of their wines for causes they don’t agree with? The fragmented sales chain in the wine industry (consider the Bordeaux place or the three tiers in the US) can make it so the wineries (“suppliers”) don’t even know all the places their wines are sold. If consumers like Ron above praise wineries like Yalumba and punish others involved then maybe wineries would take steps to reform the sales channel to exert more control. But it’s such a sprawling system, it may be beyond them. It will be interesting to see what happens in this case since it is such a hot-button issue.

  4. I think it’s great of Yalumba’s CEO to object to the NRA’s stance. I guess Australia is more concerned than the U.S. I think that Vinesse needs to get out of the business of contributing profits to charities (not that the NRA is a charity) in the names of the wineries it represents.

  5. As a California wine consumer, I will keep track of who contributes to the NRA wine club and avoid buying those wine AND I will tell my friends who is on the list as well.

  6. As a California wine consumer, I will also keep track of who contributes to the NRA wine club and make it a point to purchase those wines. Wow, this sounds just as stupid as the previous comment. My point, let’s keep petty politics out of wine.

  7. Yeah, this is ridiculous. If the wines are not being sold at some special “charity” discount to this wine club then these wineries are in no way affiliated with the NRA one way or the other. This is a non-issue.

    May I also add that the Second Amendment to the Constitution exists in America as part of the Bill of Rights, so unless this is a strictly anti-NRA stance rather than a general anti-gun stance it is even more ridiculous as countless other groups and individuals agree that the Second Amendment should not be repealed.

  8. Rick and Elizabeth,
    The fact that Yalumba didn’t know their wines were on the list suggests that most of these people are not “contributors”. I bet 95% of these producers didn’t even know about the NRA wine club until their wine on the list and most are probably as upset at Yalumba.
    Don’t get me wrong I’m not supporting the NRA but i think you shouldn’t be so quick to judge.

  9. Wineries have a right to do whatever they feel they want to do, and anyone who gets upset about that ought to read the complete Constitution instead of one Amendment. Also, since businesses are people…

    Taking a cue from an old campaign, here’s a slogan for the NRA wine club: Don’t drink and shoot.

  10. Wineries have a constitutional right to stop wine clubs from purchasing their wines from distributors? Seriously?

    They obliviously have a right to put out any sort of press stating that they are not affiliated with certain wine clubs. Wineries could also choose to change their distribution channels.

  11. Thanks nuffer, for putting word into my post.

    Wineries have a right to stop selling their wine wherever they want to stop selling it. Seriously.

  12. But that’s just not true at the level of this NRA wine club unless buying direct from the winery. Am I missing something?

    I don’t even see why this is an issue in the first place, since again, the winery is not endorsing or donating or discounting for the NRA.

  13. I will not be purchasing any of their wine…Yalumba’s grapes may be too thin skinned (like their CEO)to produce good wine.

  14. Good to know. They definitely have the right to sell to whom they decide, and I have the right to stop selling Yalumba as well. They have now been removed from my BTG program.

  15. Thanks for the comments here–an interesting discussion.

    Just a quick comment to say that someone emailed to let me know that the NRA Wine Club site is no longer displaying the 476 individual wines available.

  16. Thanks for a list of wineries l need not buy from! Some us still believe in freedom and personal liberties.

  17. I am not a fan of NRA either, but bravo Yalumba for using NRA as a publicity stunt to get its name out.

  18. I knew Vinesse ran quite a few of my larger competitors clubs, but didn’t realize the NRA had a club until the story broke.

    Given the size of some of the other Vinesse run clubs, I have to think that the NRA club ships, well thousands of cases of wine.

    At thousands of cases, I HIGHLY doubt they are only working through the 3 tier system to gain access to those wines. I buy direct from wineries instead of through the 3 tier system as my permitting allows because pricing is better for me and my customers-am I suppose to expect that a club many times the size of mine behaves differently?

    I just have a hard time believing under closer inspection that these wineries didn’t know.

  19. It is only a matter of time before the NRA switches to a “Buy American” wines philosophy, involving California, Washington and New York, and other states. No imports need apply.

  20. Unless we are talking about political views that are truly abhorrent it is undemocratic punish others for their views. Sure, we all may have the right to not not buy from/sell to people with whom we disagree with politically, but if this behavior were widespread democracy would suffer. It would be hard to say that anyone really had a freedom of conscience if their economic livelihood were directly linked to holding widespread political opinions versus minority opinions.

  21. […] that its wine were being sold to raise funds for the National Rifle Association and is trying to put the kibosh on […]


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