Illinois appears primed to enact legislation that would effectively eliminate direct shipment of wine by requiring purchasers to first purchase wine in person before being eligible to buy wine directly:
A bill in Springfield, backed by a major distributors' group, would restrict Illinois wineries' right to sell wine over the Internet, through the mail or by telephone. Distributors say the bill is necessary in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year -- and to prevent sales to minors. But Illinois wine-makers say distributors are trying to choke competition.
"It would be a disaster for the Illinois wineries," said Fred Koehler, president of Lynfred Winery in Roselle. "It's like Goliath against these little farm wineries that are trying to survive."
Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois, a Springfield-based industry group, pushed the legislation, introduced in the House and Senate earlier this month. ABDI Executive Vice President Bill Olson said the state's wineries have used a loophole to escape regulation. The wine bill "hits a middle ground," Olson said.
"The key word here is 'a face-to-face sale,' which is the primary mechanism against underage sales," Olson said.
The proposed law would bar shipments to purchasers in Illinois unless they first bought wine in person. After the initial purchase, wineries would be allowed to ship two cases per buyer each year.