Friday, September 10, 2010

Day 253 - Free the Grapes

For those of you who live in forward thinking, free-market states, please forgive the indulgence.

My state just recently jumped on that crazy bandwagon called Daylight Savings Time. Yeah, we're on the cutting edge.

While everyone else in the civilized world was doing it, we were jumping between time zones twice a year.

Seems harmless, until you try to do business with someone who isn't living in 1853. "Uh, no, we aren't on Eastern Time, right now... I know we were last week... now, we're on Central. But, we'll be back on Eastern in the fall... for a while. So the meeting will be at 2:00pm your time, or maybe 1:00pm, or maybe 3:00pm... no one's really sure."

Yeah, those were great times, when customers and partners laughed at our unnatural attachment to our old-time hick identity. I'm sure glad those days are over.

Except they aren't.

Last week, while touring some of the wineries in Napa, I learned to dread the question:

"So,where is everyone from?"

"We're from New York." "Great., I love New York."

"We're from Ohio." "Oh, that's nice."

"Hi, we're from Illinois." "Excellent. Go Illini!"

Then it was our turn...

"Uhmm, we're from Indiana.", we'd say, sheepishly. "Oooooooo, that's too bad."


The next question was always "Do you have any friends or family who live close by?" with the subtext "... in a state that isn't a puritanical backwater?"

Yeah, it was a little humiliating.



Ya see, the problem is, the great state of Indiana has laws in place that make it illegal to ship wine into the state. Even to private citizens.

Think about that one for a minute... we brought back nearly a case of wine on the plane as checked luggage. It wasn't easy, but it was legal.

We could have driven to Napa in an SUV and brought back cases and cases of wine. But having the good folks who take great care to make fine wine ship us a bottle or two a couple times a year? Not happening.

It just doesn't make sense. Who are these laws supposed to protect?

We can order cheese, sausage, lobster, steaks, and any other food online and have it the next day via FedEx.

But wine, not so much. Are they worried we might actually drink it? We can buy wine any day of the week. Ok, except Sunday, but still.

Are we going to put all of the fine Indiana wineries our of business? I don't drink any Indiana wines now, and they seem to be doing just fine.

No, the laws are on the books to protect distributors, the institutionalized middlemen of the beer, wine, and spirit business.  The distributors, with their monopoly, are so greedy and power hungry that they have made it impossible to buy wine in Indiana unless it's through them... and they get a cut.

And this system has made sure that the distributors have enough money to invest in legislators to get this made into law.

It's one of those things that you can go your whole life without even knowing it's going on. And that's the way they like it.

But, if you do find out, you can't help but ask why on earth this is allowed to happen. And then you get angry.

And then you feel helpless.

But then you get angry again. And then you want to do something about it.

And then you do a web search and you find FreeTheGrapes.org.

If you have the gumption, email your congressman and senator and ask them why in the world you can't get great wine from Napa, or Sonoma, or anywhere in the USA delivered to your doorstep when your friends in Illinois, Ohio, New York, and just about everywhere else, can.

And ask them if they think Thomas Jefferson would approve.

Good running,
Doug

Numbers: 1.4 miles on heels that are showing signs of improving.