The farmers who grow grapes and produce wine are regulated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. Tobacco, of course, has long since been identifed as an addictive killer and a major health threat. Firearms, especially recently, are under fire themselves, suddenly one of the most controversial sale items perhaps ever.
Alcohol, of course, is not without its own problems; when abused it wreaks havoc on families and leads to diseases of its own making, and wine, as an alcoholic beverage is part of the alcohol family.
That said, we consumers continue to see wine as part of a healtful diet, a beverage important to religions, art, and agricultural tourism. And we do not deign to say that wine does not kill people; only people kill people.
We are fortunate in the beginning of the 21st century to have more wines, more diversity in wines, higher quality wines, and more affordable wines than at any time in history.
Enter any retail “package” store or licensed supermarket, and you’ll see that our merchants and distributors have given us an array of wines from around the world, wines of every well known varietal and many others not so well known. For that we are grateful.
But there is more to be done. We consumers, never ones to rest on our laurels or the status quo, yearn for many wines that are not on retail shelves. They are wines, also of great diversity, produced in quantities too small to merit the attention of the distributors through whom our retailers must go. You would think that such small boutique, or otherwise little known wineries who depend on sales directly to their personal customers would not be a problem to those monstrous companies that do bring so many wines to our marketplaces.
But apparently they are a problem. The distributors have lobbyied so successfully in each of our 50 states, that every legislature has compicated our direct acess to wineries via the mail, the internet, or the telephone. Nor is the complicated access equal in all the states; in fact, it varies considerably from state to state.
I do not have wine shipped directly from wineries to my Indiana house because of complex regulations. I do to my New Mexico house. I look at winery websites to read the namesof states — even specific counties — where a winery will not ship or is not allowed to ship its products.
For a nation intent on reducing government regulation, it has overlooked the plight of the wine farmer and succumbed to the very special interests of the distributors whose lobbying efforts are cut of the same cloth as those of their bretheren in the BATF.
If the white hot shouting matches about firearms ever subside, perhaps we could launch a civilzed nationwide discussion about freeing the grapes to move directly from producer to customer under regulations equal in all the states.