I have decided to leave St. Louis on an extended journey through wine country on the West Coast. The expedition will begin in the middle of April and you can follow it here as I will be writing extensively about the experience.
Thank you to every member of the St. Louis wine industry. Our conversations over the wines we’ve tasted together have provided unforgettable experiences and have nurtured my understanding. Thanks in particular to those I have studied with in tasting groups. Keep up the good work!
I am proud to have served wonderful customers at Cafe Napoli, Remy’s and The Wine Merchant. I thank you for your patronage and for the opportunity to help you choose your wines. Extra thanks to those who attended my classes.
I do not know the outcome of this journey – it may well end with a return home. If that is the case, then I will have settled in a vibrant wine community.
Thank you all.
Just days after we learned that Amazon.com will be selling wine, Decanter.com reports that the Wall Street Journal will be getting into the game as well. We frequently have customers bring in the weekly wine column to see what we are able to obtain for them on the list. Frequently it is less than half of the wines they review. I would imagine that 100% of the wines will be available on their website.
As I said in my posting on Amazon, I love to see more outlets for people to purchase wine. Increased interest will bring them to me eventually.
According to Decanter.com, the online retailer Amazon.com will begin selling wine within weeks. Amazon has declined to comment on the matter and there is no word on which wines the company will be selling.
I am all for Amazon’s wine sales. My only reservation is the carbon footprint of individual bottles flying around the country on a greater scale. I work for a small retailer that specializes in niche wines that will not be available to a behemoth like Amazon, so we won’t be competing with them when it comes to price. It will bring more drinkers to wine, and once they are into wine they will eventually need to get some expertise on the subject. That’s when they’ll come to us.
It will also serve to reduce the regulations on the wine industry. The wine laws in America are determined by individual states. Some are much more restrictive with shipping than others. I am currently only able to ship wine to thirty-one other states because some states want to control (tax) every bottle of wine. As a small retailer we are unable to affect this situation, but a large corporation with a legion of lawyers can. Check out this article on Wal-Mart’s efforts in dry counties throughout the South.
When the Twenty-First Amendment repealed Prohibition, control of alcohol reverted to the states. This resulted in a fractured industry. In some states, a retailer or restaurant can buy alcohol from any source. Examples of the various sources include wineries, distilleries, private collections, distributors and importers. In a select few states (California, New York and New Jersey to my knowledge) a retailer can also act as the importer. Other states have much stricter regulations. In some cases, retailers are only able to buy products from one state-controlled agency.
Missouri’s system seems to be the most widely used. Retailers and restaurants are only able to buy from a distributor based in the state and that distributor must purchase from an out-of-state supplier. Wineries are able to sell directly to retailers and restaurants. Purchases cannot be made from private collections.
Since I’m writing about the local wine laws I’ll take this opportunity to digress. These restrictions have guaranteed that no restaurant in Missouri can have a spectacular wine list. If restaurants are unable to buy from sources other than distributors, then they cannot acquire mature red wines. Quality red wine is meant to be aged, but wineries cannot afford to hold the wine until it reaches maturity. The onus is on the consumer to do so. Restaurants cannot afford to do this. They want to open their doors with an amazing wine list of mature wines, not a list of potential greats that will overpower the cuisine because they are consumed too young.