Indiana Moving Towards Self Distribution?
Only three Midwestern states do not allow wineries to distribute wine directly to restaurants and retailers: Kentucky, Wisconsin and Indiana.
Now a bill is pending in the Indiana state legislature that would allow up to 5,000 gallons of wine to be sold directly by wineries therefore bypassing wine distributors.
Like distributors in other Midwestern states, Indiana distributors have little interest in selling local wine made by small producers. Generally, small wineries have had success with retail sales in states that allow the winery to sell directly to grocery stores, restaurants and wine shops.
Midwest Wine Press supports this overdue legislation that would grant Indiana wineries the freedom of less restricted commerce. Selling local wine does far more to benefit local economies than bringing in another shipment from California or France.
See: Wine wholesalers could be bypassed under proposed bill
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.
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?
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.
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.