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Would A Proposed Wine Shipping Bill Help Hoosier Wineries?

Wine

A Senate committee Wednesday unanimously approved legislation allowing wineries to sell directly to consumers over the phone or internet, without a face-to-face interaction.

Current law says retailers can only ship wine directly to individual customers if there’s been a face-to-face transaction first, at which point their age is verified.

Sen. Phil Boots, R-Crawfordsville, proposed legislation that would eliminate the face-to-face requirement, allowing customers to send ID via email, fax or through online age verification programs.

Indiana Winery and Vineyard Association counsel Lisa Hays says out-of-state wine retailers have long ignored Indiana’s policy, putting local retailers at a disadvantage.

She says the bill puts Hoosier wine sellers back on a level playing field.

“This would be a huge benefit, not only to your communities, but to add more jobs, to add more tourism,” Hays says.

But Indiana Beverage Alliance president Marc Carmichael says eliminating the face-to-face interaction will make direct wine sales much easier for out-of-state retailers, putting Hoosier wine sellers at a disadvantage.

“Is the California wine shipper going to support out local chambers, our economic development organizations, our churches, our orchestras, our scouts, and our little leagues?  And yet we’re willing to thumb our nose at our Indiana wholesalers and retailers because somebody can’t get that special Pinot Noir that they tasted once at a winery,” Carmichael says.

Carmichael says the bill also makes it easier for underage drinkers to buy wine – he notes that no one will hold a postal service or UPS driver accountable if they don’t check I.D. when delivering wine.

But proponents say out-of-state win companies largely ignore Indiana’s law right now, giving them an advantage over local retailers.

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