This blog is part of a continuing series examining the puzzling state regulations governing direct wine shipments. The 21st Amendment did away with Prohibition, but not with the many restrictions on the distribution and sale of alcohol. That simply moved to the states which constructed an often bewildering variety of laws banning or restricting shipments from wineries to consumers.
Stop Wine Tax Extortion
Wyoming regulations are the perfect example of a “limited” direct wine shipping state with unreasonable direct wine shipping restrictions.
Taxes imposed on the out of state shipper amount to unfair and unreasonable “wine tax extortion”. The state imposes a “markup tax” of 12% of the retail price on the licensed out of state shipper. On an average-priced Traveling Vineyard bottle, that equates to an additional, $3.00/bottle! This type of regulation is tantamount to extortion. It’s an effort on behalf of the state to protect the wholesalers by making direct selling winery products carry an artificially high price tag. Who loses? You, the consumer.
Two cases/per year/household is an extremely low amount relative to other states. In most “limited” states, licensed out of state shippers may ship between 1-3 cases/month. Wyoming regulation by contrast, only allows licensed shippers to ship 24 bottles/year. Yes, you read that correctly, “per year“. Two cases per year does not even amount to one bottle shared amongst friends each weekend over the course of a year.
Because of this regulation, Wyoming wine lovers can’t become members in wine clubs that ship more than 2 bottles/month. Occasionally, wine clubs include a bonus bottle to reward members for their loyalty. Such a shipment, consisting of 3 bottles instead of 2, would put the consumer over the annual limit of 24 bottles. Many wine clubs provide volume discounts by shipping 3, 6 or even 12 bottles on a regular basis. These clubs are not open to Wyoming residents. If you like what you try in your wine club shipment and want to order more after sampling, you’re simply out of luck. Your wine club shipments alone exhaust the annual limit meaning that you cannot reorder wine or join an additional wine club.
The law specifies “per household” making it even more restrictive. In households with multiple wine lovers over the age of 21, the law becomes ever more confining. By specifying “2 cases per household per year”, not simply “per person”, the restriction applies to a given shipping address. If a husband and wife living under the same roof enjoy different types of wine, they must combine their annual shipment total allowing each adult only 12 bottles/year.
Our response is to support the Wine Industry Code of Direct Selling. Introduced in 1999, these guidelines were recommended for adoption by the National Conference of State Legislatures, Task Force on the Wine Industry on November 5, 1997. We’re calling for simplifying the laws governing direct shipments.
What’s a Wine Lover To Do?
A consumer voice in the state is needed to change this in the legislature. We encourage you to visit www.freethegrapes.com to sign up for their informative E-newsletter and learn about the regulations in your state and the states where you ship wine. You can also stay connected to the action on Facebook.
We want to make sure that we acknowledge Wyoming as a state that at least “allows” wine direct shipments. Our free home wine tastings and the ability for our Independent Wine consultants to operate their home based business is dependent on States allowing the direct shipment of wine. Explaining to our customers why the tax is so high is a different matter all together.