First, a BIG thanks to Frank Albani for the opportunity to participate in his "Organic Food and Land Care" talk at the Plymouth Public Library on May 9th of this year. Frank draws quite a crowd! There were at least 70 people attending this talk and they all were deeply appreciative with their comments afterwards.
I had a great time learning lots about all kinds of organic issues.
Sarah told us all about how to skip the chemicals when it comes to caring for our lawns. Now that I know that nematodes can eat grubs, watch out! was up second. I talked about the nature of the industrial food pipeline and drew a picture meant to illustrate the last 7 thousand years of human evolution! After me, Kofi told us all about his 'Community Supported Farm' in Buzzards Bay, MA called 'Bay End Farm'. Then Frank gave a great slide show on the Soule Homestead Farm in Middleborough, MA where he is the Executive Director.
The attendees of this talk not only heard my spiel about how to eat outside the industrial food pipeline, but they got to meet the farmers that enable them to do that and even see pictures of how they farm! It was great fun for them and for me as well.
If you live in Massachusetts make sure you stop in and visit Frank Albnani's organic farm and education center in Middleborough, MA. They have a summer concert series, tons of programs for kids all summer long. He'll host birthday parties, even teach your kids how to make butter! Check out www.soulehomestead.org for the latest calendar of events.
Want fresh veggies and a bouquet of flowers every week of the summer? Contact Kofi at www.bayendfarm.com and join his CSA! It's the best way to eat 'outside' the pipeline, keep you food dollars in the local economy, and "put a face on your food" as Frank says.
Thanks again Frank!
The case to buy a case.
The Internet is a great enabler of small business. It costs practically nothing to set up a web site, advertise the goods your wish to sell, and give the customer an address to mail a check to. The only thing stopping the freedom of this variety and no industry is more regulated than the alcohol industry.
In May 2005 the Supreme Court became the new best friend of winos everywhere when it declared the regulations that prevented a winery from directly shipping you a case of their wine 'unconstitutional'. But what does this mean to us (US?) wine consumers? Should I put a call in to Chris Bilbro at Marietta Cellars in Sonoma for my case of 'Old Vine Red Lot #36'!? (Damn I love that wine).
I HOPE it means that my Uncle Dan can finally retire the 'box' of thou-shall-remain-nameless red in his fridge and instead, using the Internet, opt to ship a case of top quality red Zinfandel from Pasa Robles to New York for the next time I visit! We'll see...
When prohibition ended the federal government created the alcohol industry from scratch. While each state could opt to put their own spin on it, the 'three tiers' of the system were mandated by the government. The first tier consisted of the 'producers' who made beer, wine and spirits. The second tier contains wholesalers and distributors. The third tier contains the retailer who sells to the public.
To sell their wine, first a winery had to find a distributor willing to take their vintage to the retailer. Typically this meant that the winery had to have a large enough volume to warrant the distributor's attention. From the retailer's perspective the winery had to have enough of a reputation to enable the strong sales of their wine. Who wants to get stuck with 20 cases of something you cannot sell because no one wants to shell out money to experiment. This was not a small-producer-friendly environment.
Throughout the 90's 23 states adopted new laws allowing for P2P wine sales. A winery could advertise their wares on the Internet and ship directly to their customers within the state. Later, states began to create reciprocal relationships with other states that allowed P2P wine shipments. So a person in Missouri could have wine shipped to them California, but a person in Maryland could not. This upset everyone. While consumers were frustrated by these draconian arrangements, the second and third tiers of the three tier system were even more upset because they were getting cut of their take.
The Court Case
Granholm V. Heald is the case that went to Supreme Court. On May 16th the court, in a 5-4 ruling, said that a state who allowed in-state P2P wine shipments could not ban interstate P2P win shipments because such a practice was discriminatory towards out of state wineries.
What does this Decision Mean?
Well, it could mean a couple of things...
Your state might do what NJ did and ban all delivery by mail of alcohol. That sure levels the playing field huh! Missouri is the other extreme where its already 'open' system now accepts shipments from any state.
What is most likely to happen is that each state will craft some form of legislation that allows for the shipment of wine that ensures that the taxes owed on that shipment are paid. The taxation issue was the big issue all along because in most states it's the job of the second tier to collect those taxes and give them to the state. With that tier no longer involved in a P2P wine transaction, who will collect and deliver to the state the money they are owed?
Let's be clear, the three tier system was not dismantled by this recent court decision, but the door was opened to allow wine shipments if all the logistics could be worked out. I'll keep an ear to the rail on this one and let you know what develops as policy for Massachusetts, Vermont and New York which is where most of the wine drinkers I know reside.
Get ready Dan! Someday, with the help of the postman, we're going to explore the world of Pasa Robles together from my PC!