US: California winemakers lose access to Illinois

By | 2 June 2008

An anti-shipping law to be implemented in Illinois this week will result in hundreds of California winemakers losing their right to ship wine into the state's wine markets.

The law, which has taken immediate effect, is a result of many California winemakers not technically being licensed as "wine producers", but as retailers and distributors, it was warned today (2 June).

The Illinois law only allows those licensed as "wine producers" to ship wine to Illinois residents.

"We are talking about hundreds of California's finest and most celebrated winemakers being shut out of Illinois and prohibited from filling orders by their long time customers," said Tom Wark, executive director of Specialty Wine Retailers Association. "The Illinois law was poorly thought out and even more poorly written, as is typical of protectionist legislation."

Many California winemakers do not obtain the "02" wine producer licenses from the California Alcohol Beverage Commission since they are making their wine in someone else's facility. Instead, they obtain a combination "17 and 20" license which officially makes them retailers and distributors.

In addition, all of California's wine merchants are also prohibited from shipping to Illinois under the new law.

"California's ban was brought up in Illinois during their debate over its new law. Now California legislators have effectively contributed to hundreds of California wineries losing a significant market for direct sales," added Wark.

The loss in sales to California winemakers and retailers is likely to run into millions of dollars, the association warned.

Sectors: Wine

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