Help Support Small Wine Importers and Distributors!

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Today the New York wine industry is afire with discussion about an “At Rest” provision of the 2012 New York State alcoholic beverage control act. The two largest corporate distributors of wine and spirits are lobbying for this change in the hopes of destroying all the competition they face from small to mid-size importers and distributors like Jenny & François Selections. The provision would require all wine sold in New York State to come from warehouses located in New York State. Our wines are currently warehoused in New Jersey, as are all the wines of all but these two large distributors. If this provision were approved, we’re at a loss for how we would be able to do business at all. In fact one wonders how the network of smaller retailers, restaurants, and bars, would be able to stay afloat were they only able to sell the mass market industrial wines sold by those two massive corporations.

We’re extremely blessed in New York City to have such an amazing array of small production, artisanal wines to choose from. This is a direct result of the huge number of small importers like our company, and would not be possible without the affordable warehousing available in New Jersey. The large distributors pushing this agenda are threatened by their loss of market share, and are attempting to fight back by lobbying the state to effectively destroy their competition. Please don’t allow them to get away with this, please contact your senator to let them know how you feel about this.

The issue was brought to our attention by Eliot at Verity Wines, who had the following to say about the issue:

“Imagine a landscape with only the two largest wholesalers remaining to work with. Selections would become painfully limited. Prices would most certainly rise. Service would plummet. Their pro-“at rest” argument (union warehouse jobs and revenue) is simply a veiled attempt by this wholesaler to destroy all of the fine wine wholesale competition, because most of your valued New York wholesalers would undoubtedly be forced to close their doors. We have contacted our State Senators to tell them that we oppose “at rest” in either legislation or budget language. We urge you to do the same before FRIDAY, MARCH 9th. Please contact your Senator to tell them you oppose “at rest.” The procedure is quick and simple. Please just click on the link: Type in your address and zip code under “FIND MY SENATOR” and hit submit. Fill out the online form with your information (ignoring the drop down box), type “At Rest” in the Subject Line and either craft your own statement or feel free to copy and paste the paragraph below. We thank you for your time, your attention, and most of all your support.”

Dear Senator,

It has come to our attention that one large wine & spirit wholesaler is lobbying you to include “at rest” in the 2012 budget. They are claiming “at rest” will create revenue for the State. But, as a licensed, small business that buys from many wine distributors, I do not agree that it would create revenue. Instead, I believe that “At rest” would result in hundreds of closed businesses, including both wholesalers and retailers, and at least a thousand unemployed New Yorkers. As such the State would lose hundreds of millions in taxable revenues from passing this bill. The volume of wine sold in the State (and the accompanying beverage excise tax revenue) would severely decrease. Consumer selection would be limited and the price of wine would escalate with the costs inevitably passed on to the consumer. Moreover, the ancillary effects of the resultant higher unemployment, lower sales and income tax revenues collected, would further exacerbate the current economic position of the state, not improve it. With the above in mind, we urge you NOT to vote for “at rest” either in legislation or in the budget language.

Thank You

Update: There’s also a petition you can sign here.