Indiana Moving Towards Self Distribution?

Mark Ganchiff

Mark Ganchiff is the publisher of Midwest Wine Press, the leading source of news on the growing wine industry in the central United States. Mark has been a wine judge at the 2012 and 2014 INDY International Wine Competition, the 2014 Cold Climate Wine Competition, the 2013 Mid-American Wine Competition, the 2012 Illinois State Fair Wine Competition and the 2013 Michigan Wine Competition. He also enjoys speaking at wine events including the Cold Climate Wine Conference, the Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Association Annual Meeting, the Midwest Grape and Wine Conference and the Wisconsin Fruit and Vegetable Conference. Mark's articles about regional wine have appeared in Vineyard & Winery Management, WineMaker and several regional magazines. Mark is a Level One Sommelier in the Court of Master Sommeliers. He lives in Louisville, but also has a residence in Chicago.

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4 Responses

  1. D. Becker says:

    Agreed Mark,

    The allowance of self-distribution has proved a boon to small wineries and to some extent vineyards in other Midwestern states, as the owners of these same wineries are often the most adamant about buying and using local grapes. The passage of such legistlation encourages the development of local wine industries and serves as a draw for tourists which provides income for rural communities.

    It is a wonder that Wisconsin has not already allowed such practices given the size and continued growth of their industry. As for Kentucky, the small size of its industry, its history with prohibition (fully 2/3 of its counties remain dry or moist), and its loction within the bible belt provide an explanation as to why such legislation has not been passed or is unlikely to pass if proposed.

    • Mark Ganchiff says:

      Dan,

      Thanks for your comment. From what I understand, there is one large distributor (primarily a beer distributor) who is blocking self distribution in Wisconsin. However, the Wisconsin wine industry has only been organizing for a relatively short time. There’s a lot if momentum behind Wisconsin wine and it’s only a matter of time before wineries in the Badger State can self distribute. Didn’t know 2/3rds of KY was still dry. Where do they age all that bourbon?

      • D. Becker says:

        Mark,

        If a bourbon distiller is located within a dry county they can still produce and age the liquor at the wearhouse, but are restricted from sales within the county. As an example, Jack Daniel’s is the largest producer of Tennessee wiskey in the United States, but since it is located in a dry county you may visit the distillery but cannot try any samples or purchase the product. Instead, you would have to travel to a liqour retailer in the nearest wet or moist county (usually with a larger city) to make a purchaise. Borboun distribution is a multi-billion dollar per year industrythat is highly centralized in a small number of corporations within Kentucky, with most of the bourbon being shipped outside of the state or to other nations.

        However, if the bourbon distiller is located in a moist county they may have on-site sales with a county approved liquor licence or if they are attached to a restaraunt with a liquor licence. Regulations according to restaraunt liquor sales usually follow the guidlines of mininum number of seats (100-150) or percentage of revenue obtained from food vs. alcohol sales (e.g. 75% food vs. 25% alcohol sales). It is really up to the county government to decide the terms of the agreement as there are few overarching state-wide regulations on the sale of alcohol.

        • Mark Ganchiff says:

          Dan,

          Thanks for the detailed overview of some very convoluted liquor laws. Kentucky sounds like they would have a long road to get any kind of wine self distribution the way power is concentrated there.

          MG

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