Hoosier Wine Cellar reports that several Indiana wineries were the target of an Excise sting right after the "face to face" requirement was reinstated by the 7th Circuit. The caller would implore the wineries to send a bottle to the caller's mother through the mail, despite the fact the caller had not completed the required application to ship wine.
Sadly, one unnamed winery failed to follow the statute, and sent a bottle. This resulted in the immediate search of the winery, and the suspension of the winery's license. The matter was quickly settled with a substantial fine, and now we all know the Excise Police are serious about enforcing this law.
I tend to be very pro-law enforcement, and don't much care of the "where are our priorities" argument when it comes to enforcement of statutes. So don't expect that here. But when various Federal Circuits, appellate courts, and just about everyone else has trouble interpreting the current state of the law, (or, at the very least, has concerns about the current constitutionality of the law) is prompt enforcement wise?
I would have recommended a memo sent to all wineries by IATC's legal counsel clarifying the current state of the law, complete with a note of IATC's commitment to enforcing the statute. Several government agencies routinely do this, and counsel's secretary only has to make 37 copies.
Then again, one might say this should have been done by the Indiana Wine Guild. I suppose, but I am not sure if they are in a position to afford to retain an attorney on a consistent basis, though apparently they did finance the quick settlement of the above action.
One thing is clear-there are no winners in this. The IATC looks like a heavy handed Gestapo, and the winery has a massive fine to pay in the midst of a recession.
Let's hope the other 36 wineries in Indiana got the message.
PS: I did find this warning from The Wine Institute dated December 2 warning shippers of the return of the face to face requirement.
6 years ago