A lose-lose situation
The Washington Post posted the article below regarding many wines that Marylanders are not privileged to purchase because of laws against direct wine shipping:
A lose-lose situation
Wednesday, January 20, 2010;
Chris Camarda makes stunning red wines, primarily from Bordeaux grape varieties grown in the Columbia Valley, at Andrew Will Winery
on Vashon Island, Wash. But Andrew Will wines are not distributed in
our area. Virginia and District residents may order them from the
winery or from retail stores in other states; however, I and my fellow
Nor can we buy Whitcraft Winery's
delicious pinot noirs from various vineyard sites in California. These
wines have struggled to find representation among a crowd of wines in
distribution channels that have become increasingly narrow because of
consolidation among wholesalers. Large firms have gobbled up smaller,
regional distributors. Smaller wineries, with limited availability,
become hard sells. Many of them simply do not try for representation
through the traditional system, preferring to sell through mailing
lists or out the winery door.
Travel to any region in the United States, and you may find an
exciting local wine that is sold at the winery or to a few local
outlets. One I tasted last year was a Madeira-style dessert wine by Haak Vineyards & Winery
in Santa Fe, Texas, made from a grape called Blanc du Bois. (Tennessee
Williams fans, take note!) There is no way I will find that wine in
Montgomery County's government-run liquor stores.
Terry Theise is a nationally acclaimed importer, credited with
launching the current craze for small-grower champagne. He grew up in
Washington's Maryland suburbs and lives in Silver Spring, so we can
claim him as our own (even though he imports through a New York
company). Yet of the 15 champagne growers in Theise's portfolio, only
seven are carried by his D.C.-area distributor, and then only the basic
cuvees. If I want a bottle of 2002 H. Billiot Fils, one of the most
spine-tickling champagnes I've ever tasted, I'm out of luck.
"Artisan importers tend to have portfolios reflecting what our
growers produce: small batches of lots of different wines," he says.
Distributors, on the other hand, "tend to favor operational and
logistical efficiency, for obvious and understandable reasons. I have
about 500 different wines" -- in a portfolio that spans Germany and
Austria as well as Champagne -- "but my wholesaler here carries about
25. And even in a perfect world I can't imagine him carrying more than
75. I want him to be sustainable, too!"
Market forces limit our choices. Maryland law limits them even more. That is not fair.