Oklahoma Wine Industry Considers Direct Shipping Changes

How Does Striking Down the Direct Shipping Ban Impact Oklahoma's Famly Wineries?

Oklahoma wine industry insiders are talking excitedly about the end of the wine shipping ban. The only issue appears to be discrimination in today's Supreme Court ruling in favor of direct wine shipment. As I read the opinion (caution: I am NOT a lawyer), a state can opt to BAN All shipments, or to ALLOW All shipments, but they cannot choose to allow in-state shipments while banning those from out-of-state. However, just what Oklahoma's position on in state direct shipping is unclear.

Some industry experts are predicting a new dawn for the Oklahoma winemakers, others say this changes nothing in Oklahoma. One thing is certain every Oklahoma winery's web strategy has just become much more important. If given the ability to market Oklahoma wine globally, you can expect a rapid increase in the number of Oklahoma winery websites, wine clubs and newsletters.

Oklahoma Voters Are For Lifting the Direct Shipping Ban.

In November of 2000, Oklahoma voters overwhelmingly approved a law allowing local wineries to sell and ship directly to liquor stores and restaurants without having to go through a wholesaler.

To me, this reads as if Oklahoma wineries can direct ship to in state retailers, but California wineries cannot.

President Bush Supports Lifting the Direct Shipping Ban.

Under a provision of the Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act, signed into law by President Bush on November 2, 2002, a consumer visiting a winery and making a purchase on-site may have the wine shipped to his home state, so long as that state would allow the consumer to carry wine into the state on his person. (More Info)

To me, this means Oklahoma wineries can direct ship wine to the homes of winery visitors.

Where Does Your Representative Stand?

Oklahoma's small but growing number of wineries cannot hope to complete in a global market without access to that market. The distributors have not honestly supported ANY winery in this state. Everyday Oklahoma wineries are contacted by by potential customers frustrated in their inability to order Oklahoma wines on the web and have them shipped to their homes.

Forces are lining up on both sides to fight this out in every state Congress and in the board rooms of America's largest companies. UPS, for example, has brought the fight to home winemakers as well:

The corporate headquarters of UPS has stopped all consumers from shipping wines through its retail outlets nationwide -- in-state or out-of-state -- unless the customer has a license to do so. More than 630 UPS stores in California, including seven UPS and MailBoxes Etc. franchises in San Luis Obispo County, received notice of the new policy in early April. -- Wine Business Online article from this week.

I, for one, don't expect Oklahoma's legislators to rush in and clarify this issue until the National wine lobby or the National liquor distributors lobby pony's up enough doe to settle this thing once and for all. -- Oklahoma Wine News

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