Uncorked Ventures Blog

Mark Aselstine
June 29, 2012 | Mark Aselstine

Canada Ends Federal Wine Shipping Ban

In the United States every state holds the power to control how alcohol is marketed, sold and transported.  At Uncorked Ventures we think that’s a good thing.  More local control has been shown time and time again to help prevent and lessen underage drinking which is good for everyone in the wine industry, even those of us selling wine at price points which simply aren’t attractive to underage buyers.  That being said, dealing with specific license requirements in states which allow out of state retailers to ship directly to consumers can be oppressive to small business. Some states go even further by preventing out of state wineries and/or retailers from shipping directly to citizens in their state, while also allowing in state wineries and retailers to ship wine directly to them.  Aside from the obvious and clear violation of the Commerce Clause (which judging by the recent health care ruling, the Supreme Court still views as a valuable part of the Constitution given it was referenced in the majority opinion) that hurts consumer choice.  If you live in Pennsylvania as an example, you can come to California to visit Napa Valley, but can’t have wine shipped back to your house.  Is that really preventing underage drinking?  Is it really doing anything other than restraining trade for out of state retailers?


I bring all this up because Canada has many of the same sets of rules and regulations regarding alcohol shipments from one Province to another.  Their rules, like ours, were enacted after Prohibition.  Unlike the United States though, where the federal government decided after Prohibition to get out of the alcohol regulation business, the Canadian federal government did have a set of laws on the books which eliminated a large part of winery to consumer shipments across Province lines.

From CNews: “OTTAWA - With the stroke of the governor general's pen, Conservative MP Dan Albas's bill to eliminate the federal ban on transporting wine across provincial borders became law Thursday”

It is, without a doubt an important step for consumer choice in Canada and we hope a good sign for continued loosening of restrictions which eliminate consumer choice as well as our ability to compete with business with local retailers.

Mark Aselstine
June 26, 2012 | Mark Aselstine

Biodynamic Wine

It seems that biodynamic wine is in the news again, at least in the blogosphere thanks to Tom Wark at Fermentation as well as Steve Heimoff.

While both writers do a better job than I can at sharing their concerns with the movement, my thoughts have always mirrored theirs.  We spend an awful lot of time talking to vineyard owners, winemakers and others within the wine industry.

At our core, we’re a wine club interested first and foremost in high quality wine, so if the industry thought biodynamics was a way to gain higher quality-I’d assume someone would have mentioned it during a meeting.  Over the course of two and a half years, it simply hasn’t happened yet.  That makes me wonder, if the entire wine industry in California, Oregon and Washington behind the times, or are some proponents of biodynamic wine making bigger claims than are actually based on fact?

At the end of the day anyone who lives and makes a living near wine country is going to care about the environment.  Rising temperatures, seas and the destruction of the water table are all serious issues which are going to affect the wine industry over the long term. Anything wineries and vintners can do locally to help protect the environment is a really, really good thing and I think biodynamic wine has a place there to be sure.  What I don’t want to see happen however, is a total commitment to biodynamics without a corresponding look into how wineries can be greener businesses overall.  From the way a winery creates power to the packaging they use for in person sales and wine club shipments, there are ways for almost every winery in America to be a greener business. Let’s start there and then move on to biodynamics if the research appears more solid at some point in the future.


Time Posted: Jun 26, 2012 at 10:06 AM