You are joking right? What exactly is the legal difference between a winery shipping to me and a winery using a third party provider to do their order fulfillment? Wineries, big and small, often cannot keep up with the logistics of packing and filling orders in their own facilities. There are issues of storage for all the wine, keeping up with compliance requirements, and being able to dedicate a full time employee to managing such matters. I understand that it can be less expensive and more convenient to pay other folks (fulfillment houses) to do this for you.
I tried to order from Wine Woot yesterday. I’ve ordered from them in the past, with no issues. Yesterday, I noticed Virginia was not on the list of approved shipping states. Baffling. Then I thought back to someone who tried to ship me samples last month…after shipping to me many times, they could not ship to me any longer. I didn’t think much of it at the time, it was an anomaly. But now, after further investigation, I see that the Virginia ABC issued a circular to all wineries and other business licensed to ship alcohol to VA. The circular basically states that it is not legal to use a 3rd party fulfillment house to ship wine into the Commonwealth (remember, we are a Commonwealth, not a state, something that routinely trips prospective lawyers up on the Bar…despite it being called the Virginia State Bar, you ought not to refer to VA as a state in your essays!) and all orders must be taken and fulfilled by the entity licensed to ship to VA. You can read the memo over on the Ship Compliant Blog.
Apparently wineries and other wine industry groups have asked for clarification..or a change. The Ship Compliant Blog reports that the VA ABC is well aware of the issue but will not budge in its interpretation of the law. Though it may consider withholding the clarification ruling until 2011 in hopes the VA legislature will act and clarify the law. Until it issues a new circular, the ban remains in effect.
I’m pissed. This is utter bullshit. Sorry, but it is. I cannot fathom why VA would object to wineries using a 3rd party TO MAKE SURE THEY ARE IN COMPLIANCE WITH VA LAW. Needless to say, my state representatives are getting emails from me. If you live in VA, I urge you to do the same. Until then FREE THE GRAPES.