Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Possible compromise in wine shipment saga?

According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, Indiana’s legislators may have doffed their fading Groucho masks for long enough to see a potential compromise in the long-running wine shipment farce:

Wine-shipping compromise nears fruition; Senate approval needed today, by Lesley Stedman Weidenbener.

Rep. Paul Robertson, D-Depauw, whose district includes two wineries, said yesterday that the bill is a compromise, a true give-and-take among competing interests.

"Someone asked: Who gets the best deal?" Robertson said. "We have a bill that will keep the farm wineries in operation and keep the wholesalers and distributors as happy as they can be."

Of course, anything that keeps wholesalers “happy as they can be” hardly will be conducive to the consumer’s interest in free trade and the benefits of competition that proceed from it, but such is the intrinsic loopiness of the mandated three-tier distribution system.

Earlier, the Indiana Law Blog offered insight into just how convoluted Indiana’s legislators might seek to make this latest compromise:

The compromise legislation would create a direct wine seller's permit so that Indiana wineries and those in other states could ship to Indiana residents.

Wineries that sell less than 500,000 gallons of wine in Indiana and meet other qualifications would have to pay $100 a year for the permit. They would be able to ship 3,000 cases of wine to Indiana customers each year.

Customers ordering wine would first have to visit the winery in person and complete a face-to-face transaction, during which the winery could check their ID. Customers could then order up to two cases per month that could be shipped to them at home.

Presumably, the same “face to face” standard would apply to Indiana consumers ordering from a California winery.

Through the wonders of digital photography, it should be standard fairly easy to falsify.

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