Oregon wineries face more sales limits

Oregon wineries face more sales limits

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by JOE SMITH, KGW

kgw.com

Posted on April 19, 2010 at 5:34 PM

Updated Tuesday, Apr 20 at 8:26 AM

SALEM -- From the vineyard to the bottle to the glass is a long road for wineries.  And selling bottles out of state on the  Internet and direct to consumers is a large part of a winery's business.

But, that could end, if a new bill in Congress passes. It could halt direct out-of-state sales altogether,something that would
severely hurt Oregon's wine industry.

"There is new legislation to regulate even further the distribution with wine and consumers," said Maria Ponzi, director of sales and marketing for Ponzi Winery in Beaverton.

The bill would effectively end direct sales to consumers. At Ponzi Winery it accounts for 25-30 percent of sales.  The National Beer wholesalers is at the heart of pushing this legislation.

"And the reason they want to regulate is because they want to again protect that monopoly, of work through the wholesaler. No more Internet sales no more e-commerce" according to Ponzi.

But, the wholesalers say it's about protecting wineries from selling to underage drinkers.

Ponzi counters, "The idea that we're promoting underage drinking or alcoholism is just ludicrous."

All Oregon wineries must follow a myriad of rules and regulations when selling and shipping direct in 37 states. Each state has it's own laws. Any wine delivered must be signed for by someone 21 years old or older.

And the proposed legislation  would spill over to local wine shops.

Dan Mccallum, owner of Vinopolis in downtown Portland with more than 1,900 wines is watching this bill HR 5034 very closely.

"I would say my business falls by 30 to40 percent" said McCallum.

For consumers it would limit choices. Andrew Callahan enjoys Oregon wine, but on occasion would like to buy wine from other parts of the country.

"There's a lot of great stuff not very far away and it wouldn't be good" said Callahan.

For wineries, wine shops and consumers, a change of rules they say leaves little to cheer about.

"I find this bill an embarrassment as well as being extremely destructive to our wineries here in the state in particular" said Ponzi.

So far the Oregon Wine Board has not made a comment on the proposed legislation.
 

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