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Virginia Farm Wineries Lose Right to Self Distribute

Self-Distribution Bill, House Bill 1288, tabled by a General Assembly Committee.
February 02, 2006

Press Release: Alexandria, CA, February 1, - Virginia's farm wineries experienced a devastating setback yesterday when a General Assembly Committee tabled House Bill 1288, a bill designed to protect farm winery self distribution rights sponsored by Delegate Chris Saxman of Staunton.

House Bill 1288 would have maintained the wineries ability to serve as their own distributor by personally delivering wine to local shops and restaurants. The tabling of this bill not only jeopardizes the survival of many of Virginia's smaller farm wineries, but also Virginia vineyard owners, wine retailers and industry suppliers of bottles, barrels and equipment, who stand to lose significant revenues from this decision. The median farm winery produces 2,500 cases a year. At that size, small wineries cannot afford to use middlemen to deliver their wine. Eliminating self distribution will put many of these small Virginia farm wineries out of business.

VWA received support for House Bill 1288 from the Virginia Vineyards Association, Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, Virginia Agribusiness Council, Virginia Retail Merchants Association and Virginia Hospitality and Travel Association, Loudoun County and the Virginia-Wine-of-the-Month Club.

Approximately 90% of Virginia's farm wineries self distribute in local markets, even when they also use a wholesale distributor. Ann Heidig, President of VWA and Owner of Lake Anna Winery notes, "Farm wineries use self distribution to develop important relationships with local outlets, and create brand recognition and market demand for their wines. While some wineries produce enough wine to use a licensed wine wholesaler, small wineries with limited quantities jeopardize slim profit margins by having to use a middleman to deliver to local wine shops and restaurants. Self distribution has been the single most important factor in the growth of Virginia's wine industry since 1980. Yesterday's vote is a direct threat to the continued viability and growth of this agricultural industry."

The Virginia Wineries Association, established in 1983, is a non-profit trade organization, representing the wineries of Virginia and dedicated to promoting public wine education and appreciation, wine and health research, quality wine production, market development and growth of the wine industry.

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515 King Street ▪ Suite 420 ▪ Alexandria, VA 22314 ▪ tel: 703.373.6000 ▪ fax: 703.684.6048


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