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Family Winemakers of California applauds passage of SJR 34

Submitted By: Lewis Perdue, August 02, 2010
For Immediate Release

Contact: Paul Kronenberg

(916) 498-7500

Family Winemakers of California applauds passage of SJR 34

California Legislature resolution opposes H.R. 5034

Sacramento, CA – "The California Legislature took an important stand today with the passage of Senate Joint Resolution 34 because it puts the largest wine producing state and largest wine market state on record in opposing H.R. 5034," said Paul Kronenberg, President of Family Winemakers of California (FWC). "California has been a leader in direct-to-consumer wine policy since 1985 and responding to the modern business demands of wine production, distribution and sales. There’s no reason other than economic protectionism to entertain legislation that locks in a monopoly and perpetuates archaic laws."

The resolution, authored by Senators Alex Padilla and Patricia Wiggins, urges Congress not to pass H.R. 5034. SJR 34, sponsored by FWC and other California and regional wine groups, points out that 37 states and the District of Columbia allow direct shipping of wine from wineries to consumers, and that the annual economic benefit to the nation is $121.8 billion.

Passage of H.R. 5034 could roll back progress made in improving consumer choice in wine and creating market access for a multitude of small wine producers across the country. FWC has spent the past 10 years working on direct shipping litigation on behalf of its 600 small producers to help wineries without distribution and a retail presence gain access to new consumers. Targeted litigation over several years culminated in the Granholm decision in 2005. Just recently Family Winemakers of California v. Jenkins overturned a facially neutral production cap law in Massachusetts at the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal. Without redress to the courts on these types of laws that discriminate there will be a concerted push by wholesalers to roll back direct shipping and other market access gains.

H.R. 5034 would fundamentally change the way discriminatory laws are challenged in court. It would essentially allow the 21st Amendment, which gave the states the right to regulate alcohol, to trump the concerns of the Commerce Clause. The burden of proof to challenge a facially neutral law that discriminates would be so narrow that litigation would wither and put interstate commerce in wine at jeopardy.