If you’ve been following this blog for a few weeks now, you know that we’re keeping an eye on House Resolution 5034 (or the CARE Act), which would drastically reduce the ability of consumers to purchase wine directly from the wineries. As with any such resolution that would affect the transactions of a multi-million dollar industry, a significant amount of effort and money has been spent lobbying Congress, both to support HR 5034’s passage and to defeat it. Campaign donations to key members of the House have cut across party lines to try and influence the final fate of the bill. Today, we’ll take a look at a few of the businesses and organizations that have firmly staked their tents in either camp.
Among the prominent players supporting passage of the bill are groups who act as representatives of wholesalers. As we previously noted, the current model for alcohol sales offers a significant advantage to wholesalers, so it is no surprise that the National Beer Wholesalers Association and the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America are placing a priority on supporting the bill. Both also make a point of noting that their organizations create thousands of jobs, with the implication that any bill that aids their growth can only aid the job market during a particularly difficult economic time. The National Alcohol Beverage Control Association has long been an organization concerned with alcohol commerce regulation, so their presence in this debate is also unsurprising. The American Trauma Society and law firm Farella, Braun & Martell do not explicitly spell out their positions on the bill, although it is noteworthy that FB&M is located within Napa Valley and counts among their clients a large number of wine industry entities.
Lined up in opposition, as you might expect, are a number of organizations who advocate for smaller, specialty wineries, who would prefer that commerce laws grow more open between consumer and producer, rather than become even more restrictive. The Beer Institute, Wine Institute, Brewers Association, Specialty Wine Retailers Association, Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, and WineAmerica have been vocal opponents of HR 5034, issuing press releases arguing their case in both the legislation and in the public forum. They are joined by other organizations that are concerned with fair business practices in general, such as the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council and also including such diverse—politically opposite, in fact—groups as the American Conservative Union and the Congress of Racial Equality.
We all know how political discussions can sometimes ruin an otherwise pleasant dinner and wine tasting, but when the subject of the debate is your access to those wines, we imagine that you might have an opinion. Feel free to share it with us in the comments!