I think I’ve mentioned before that I hate Ohio.
Well, that’s a bit of a blanket statement. There are pluses. They just tend to be far and few between.
It turns out that, back in July 2007, legislation that was signed in into law that went into effect on October 1, 2007. This included legislation that made the direct shipment of alcoholic beverages to consumers illegal, with a few stipulations.
If I may, WTF?
I will be focusing on the wine aspect, as I do enjoy me some of the ruby (and the other applicable hues) elixir.
This legislation tells us that we are no longer, as Ohioans, able to purchase wine for direct shipment from wineries producing more than 150,000 gallons of wine annually.
It sounds like a large number. But, it isn’t.
Your standard wine bottle holds 750 mL, which is just shy of 1/5 of a gallon. An average shipment is one case – 12 bottles of wine. For simplicity’s sake, we’ll say that this is 10 bottles, such that a case is equal to 2 gallons of wine.
This means that any winery that makes more than 75,000 cases of wine a year cannot ship directly to consumers in Ohio.
Using rough estimates yet again, Ohio has a population of approximately 10 million people. About 20% of them are under the age of 18, so again for simplicity’s sake, let’s estimate that 30% are under 21. That leaves 70% of 10 million, or 7 million people who could consume the product.
Granted, there’s a huge amount of people who would never use these services. I’ve heard figures before that only 10% of the population actually purchase wine over $10 a bottle, which most of this wine would be. So let’s scale that 7 million back, and say that 700,000 people would ever use this service.
Simple math would say then, that there would only be enough wine from any of these wineries to supply 10% of the wine consumers in the state. And that’s just Ohio. Other states have similar legislature restricting shipment.
My question is, simply, why?
I honestly don’t understand it.
Let’s extend on this.
Assuming that the winery knows that 150,000 gallons isn’t enough to satisfy the consumer base, they’re going to make more. They have a product. They want to sell that product. They want to make money. It’s not even economics–rather simple business sense.
You’re now over the 150,000 gallon limit. You can’t sell to Ohio.
Interestingly, sources indicate that all wineries in the state of Ohio produce enough wine to surpass that limit. Which is odd, considering how often you hear “winery” and “Ohio” used in the same sentence. Yes, that means Ohio wineries cannot ship to Ohio customers. Unless legal trickery has been employed to allow such tomfoolery.
The Man contends, in one case, and the one I hear reiterated most often to the regular Joe, is that it’s helping to keep alcohol out of the hands of minors. Now, seriously, how many minors are ordering $40 bottles of wine to be shipped to their homes? I tend to agree with an article from the Toledo Blade
that, “our guess is that teens will continue to obtain alcohol the old-fashioned way, by using fake IDs or with the help of legal-age friends.”
Thinking back to my school days (which were infested with all these “new-fangled” ways to obtain alcohol, the internets…phones…telegraph) the alcohol for parties was always obtained by the kindness of the elders (read: the Juniors). Though, the art of the fake-ID was lost when possession of said document was deemed a felony.
And frankly, the goal was to procure the least expensive means: Natty Light and cheap tequila.
Not quality wines or liquors.
Even though it still does sound like a party in my mouth. At which everyone is throwing up. From the taste. And the alcohol.
In the end (that’s what she said), I don’t see how this is serving the citizens of the state, nor the wholesalers. The vast majority of consumers will still purchase their wine from distributors: a local grocery store, a family-run spirits shop, a classy restaurant. Only a tiny fraction of the population will seek out the wineries or spirit makers.
And I’m one of them as well. The majority of beverages I purchase are from large distributors. They’re convenient, and if you possess a touch of knowledge, you can find decent products.
But it doesn’t replace the relationship that one can generate with a winery directly. And I was in the process of forging those relationships.
Now, about that dwindling population you always call attention to…
The Toledo Blade, “Stomping out consumer choice,” http://toledoblade.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?
Ohio Board of Liquor Control, “Direct Shipping Information,” http://www.liquorcontrol.ohio.gov/DirectShipping.htm
U.S. Census Bureau, “Ohio Quickfacts from the U.S. Census Bureau,” http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/39000.html
Free the Grapes!, “Free the Grapes!: To ensure Consumer Choice in Fine Wine,” http://www.freethegrapes.org/
POST-RANT EDIT (10.14.2007):
It does turn out that many of the artisan wineries (such as Breggo, whom I have a wine club membership with, and dearly love) are under the 150,000 gallon range.
I also misread the article: All Ohio wineries are under the 150,000 gallon limit, allowing them to ship where they please.
The point of this article was more the WTF of, why is legislation that no one wants hidden? How many times has this happened in history, and how long will it continue?
Secondly, how can you blame this on underage drinking? I have a pretty good feeling that Stan-and-Suzie-Alcoholic didn’t start drinking Chateau Margaux illicitly by purchasing it over the internet at age 15.
Tertiarily…ish, there are artisan wineries surpassing the 150,000 gallon limit. Why should fans of said wineries lose their business relationships? I believe this puts us into a hostile state with the entire industry to the point of (and I would agree), “why even bother?”
One of these days, Alice, Ba– I’m going to stimulate the economy by buying California/Washington/Oregon wine –oon.
And now, please enjoy, the Side-boob Hour.