The threat of underage drinking and overconsumption of alcohol are among the reasons cited by backers of a bill in Congress that would ban direct shipments of wine to consumers, the Associated Press reported May 14.
Skeptics said the real reason for the measure is that alcohol distributors want to protect a lucrative part of their business.
Currently, 38 states allow at least some wine to be shipped directly to consumers. Wineries have supported such legislation at the state level. “This is an anti-consumer bill,” said Marty Clubb, owner of the L'Ecole No. 41 winery in Lowden, Wash. “This is about wholesalers trying to entrench their monopoly.”
Backers said the legislation was needed to clarify liquor laws and reinforce states' control over alcohol sales, in part by making it harder for wineries and other special interests to ask the courts to overturn state alcohol laws.
“We are extremely concerned that alcohol deregulation will make it very difficult for our states to effectively protect the public interest and ensure the safest system of alcohol distribution in the world,” said the National Association of Attorneys General in a letter signed by the chief law-enforcement officials of 39 states.