For Immediate Release July 10, 2020

Grandstanding and Support of Special Interests Harms Wine Consumers in OhiO

—National Association of Wine Retailers Renews Its Offer to Ohio to Provide Millions in Tax Revenue through Reform of Antiquated, Protectionist Wine Shipping Laws—

(Columbus, Ohio)—With its recent filing of a complaint in federal court and call for an injunction against out-of-state wine retailers who ship wine to willing consumers, the Ohio Attorney General’s office, as well as the state’s Division of Liquor Control, is engaging in grandstanding as well as protecting middlemen wholesalers from having to compete in a free market. They also harm Ohio wine consumers in the process. In light of this development, the National Association of Wine Retailers renews its earlier offer to guarantee Ohio additional tax revenue, a well-regulated wine shipping marketplace, and all by offering Ohio consumers real choice in wine.

If, as Attorney General Dave Yost claims, he is concerned with collecting tax revenue on wine sales for the state of Ohio, there is one fool-proof way to do this: help pass a law that allows Ohioans to legally receive wine shipments from out-of-state retailers in the same way Ohioans may currently receive wine shipments from out-of-state wineries. But this is not Mr. Yost’s concern. His concern is protecting the middleman Ohio wholesalers who have a monopoly on wine importation into the state and who have provided Mr. Yost with nearly $30,000 in campaign contributions over the past two years according to Ohio election records.

Ohioans purchase wine from out-of-state wine retailers despite the discriminatory and anti-consumer ban on shipments from those retailers because Ohio consumers can’t find the wines they want inside the state. This is not the fault of Ohio wine retailers. Rather, it’s the fault of Ohio middlemen wholesalers, the only source for wine inventory that Ohio retailers have and a source that provides a pitifully small selection of wines compared to what is available from wine stores across the country.

“As long as protectionist Ohio law continues to bar its citizens from receiving wine shipments from out-of-state wine retailers under the pretense they are trying to protect minors or protect tax revenue, Ohioans will continue to look elsewhere for the rare, hard-to-find, collectible and small production wines that are unavailable in the state,” said Tom Wark, executive director of the National Association of Wine Retailers. “Ohioans were not duped into buying from out-of-state wine stores, but instead do so because the selection of wines available to them in the state represents a tiny fraction of the wines that are available in the market nationwide.”

Earlier this year the National Association of Wine Retailers communicated directly with the Attorney General’s office offering to work with him on crafting a law that would give the state of Ohio considerably more tax revenue, create a well-tested regulatory framework for wine shipments as well as give Ohio consumers access to more wines than is currently available to them. No response at all came from this state regarding this offer of upwards of millions of dollars in additional tax revenues.

“At some point, Attorney General Yost, Ohio lawmakers, and the Ohio Liquor Control Division will need to put their constituents first, rather than working overtime to satisfy the small set of special interests that control wine distribution in the state and provide thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to office-holders like Mr. Yost,” said Wark. “The National Association of Wine Retailers continues to stand behind its offer to help craft this legislation that would benefit the state of Ohio, Ohio taxpayers, and Ohio wine lovers.”