BevAlc Roundup | Loopholes in Wine Tariffs, Coronavirus and Wine, and Understanding Your Distributors

Alex Koral
March 2, 2020

These last few weeks have seen headlines dominated by news of the Coronavirus outbreak, to which the beverage alcohol industry (pardon me) is not immune. There are plenty of helpful stories out there, such as the impact of travel fears and harms to tourist communities that contagion panic will spread. And plenty of pretty bad stories as well—we feel compelled to remind everyone that you can’t get Coronavirus from Corona beer. 

But if you feel a need to stay home, we can offer you the Roundup to tide you over (plus maybe a wink-and-grin reminder that alcohol is antiseptic). This week we look at a couple of lawsuits from Mississippi and California that were decided, with rulings that reinforce the status quo when it comes to interstate distribution and shipping of alcohol. Then, getting an accurate measure of the effect of hard seltzer on sales of other product types. And a history of how the Japanese market rescued the Bourbon industry from doldrums.

Did you know that Sovos ShipCompliant has upcoming events? Currently, we are getting ready for the return of our Beverage Alcohol Summit, which will take place in New York City on March 24, where we will be joined by industry experts talking about need-to-know updates affecting all suppliers and wholesalers. And then, our annual Wine Summit is coming up on May 28 in Napa. To find more information on and register for these events, look on our website. 

And in case you haven’t heard, the 2020 Direct-to-Consumer Wine Shipping Report is available for download! Get your free copy of the report here.

Thanks for reading the Roundup this week. As ever, be sure to check out the rest of the Sovos ShipCompliant blog for regular updates, and we’ll see you again in another couple of weeks.

Regulatory News and Discussions

TTB Newsletter | This week’s top news includes a proposal to establish the Verde Valley AVA, a reminder that you still have time to take our survey and share your thoughts on service improvements we’re considering, reminders about filing your tax returns and operational reports on time, and two paid internships currently available in TTB Headquarters. TTB

Wine’s Higher-Strength Tariff Solution | There’s an easy way around US tariffs on French, Spanish and German wines under 14 percent alcohol – all producers have to do is make the wine higher in alcohol.

Mississippi Supreme Court Unanimously Rules for the State | The Mississippi Supreme Court has ruled for the state in their effort to hold wine shippers liable for selling to MS in violation of several laws. Alcohol Law Advisor

Court Dismisses Out of State Importer Challenge to California’s Three Tier Requirements | The plaintiffs contended that out-of-state businesses, such as Orion Wine Imports, should be permitted to bypass California’s preferred method of regulating alcoholic beverages and sell directly to California retailers. Alcohol Law Advisor

Wine Shipping Bill in Springfield Celebrated by Wine Retailers and Illinois Consumers | Both consumers across Illinois and the National Association of Wine Retailers (NAWR) applaud the introduction of Senate Bill 3830, a bill that will finally allow Illinois consumers to receive shipments of wine from out-of-state wine retailers and wine clubs. NAWR


Industry Updates: Market Conditions and Developments

Coronavirus Leaves the Wine Industry Dizzy | As Coronavirus continues to sweep the globe, causing global stocks to plummet, major wine players are suffering. Forbes

2020 Wine Report: DTC for the Next Generation | Both Silicon Valley Bank and Sovos released their 2020 industry reports in January. The VineSpring team read both reports and we’ve put together a summary of our findings and the state of the direct-to-consumer (DTC) industry. VineSpring

Direct-to-Consumer Captures 10.8% of the 2019 Domestic Wine Retail Market | The latest Direct To Consumer Wine Industry Report covers 2019 sales, and it reinforces the message in the earlier post that DtC relates directly to the need for wineries to invest in digital technology. Forbes

New Hard Seltzer Stats Show It Outselling a Certain Beer Style at Bars and Restaurants | Within all the hype over hard seltzer, no one has really stopped to publicly notice that all of the head-spinning statistics about its meteoric rise has measured only take-out sales from grocery and package stores. Forbes


How Japan Created the Modern American Bourbon Market | The country’s desire for very well-aged, high-proof, premium-packaged, limited editions and single-barrel bourbons helped Kentucky survive when the American bourbon market was dead as disco. Vine Pair

New Strategy to Protect Wine Grapes From Smoke-Taint | A common agricultural spray may be the key to preventing smoky flavor. Science Daily

Why It’s Time to Cut Back on Glass Wine Bottles | Don’t be snobbish about wine in cans, pouches, or cartons. Glass bottles have a far higher carbon footprint. Financial Times

What Do Wine, Spirits, and Beer Distributors Really Want? | Read between the lines during your networking meeting to really understand what your distributor wants and expects from your possible deal. Wine Industry Advisor

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Alex Koral

Alex Koral is Senior Regulatory Counsel for Sovos ShipCompliant in the company’s Boulder, Colorado office. He actively researches beverage alcohol regulations and market developments to inform development of Sovos’ ShipCompliant product and help educate the industry on compliance issues. Alex has been in the beverage alcohol arena since 2015, after receiving his J.D. from the University of Colorado Law School.
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