The shipping rules

Last week I wrote an article about the difficulties small, independent wineries face in pursing the opportunities in direct to consumer sales. It’s an interesting time because with social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook and others it’s easier than ever to reach the consumer. But each state’s varying regulations on shipping to consumers makes it a red-tape nightmare for many companies.

One angle of the story I didn’t have space to delve into was that Amazon was considered by many to be the cure all for the problem. Consumers would have the ease and reliability of buying through the online retail giant, and it would work with New Vine Logistics, a high tech, Napa-based shipping firm, to get the product out. In a story that’s been reported in countless blogs and news reports, New Vine went bust leaving the Amazon project in doubt. New Vine has apparently resumed operations but the future is still cloudy. Here’s a good blog to get started reading more on the issue.

The whole shipping issue is a little lost on me. I understand why it’s so popular and why it’s become a fast growing segment of the wine industry. It would be nice to cruise the Internet scouting out the best vintages and just click, buy and ship myself cases but there’s just one kicker: I really can’t afford it.

So, I’m left wandering the wine aisles. Many folks who advocate for free shipping like to bash the middlemen, the wholesalers and distributors, of the “three tier system.” Maybe I’m just naive but for people like myself, I rely on the “middle tier” to provide a variety of wines at my local store or restaurant.

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