Glad I've been stocking up. I wrote to the state legislators via freethegrapes. It surprised me that Virginia would come down on this side of the issue, although I know they've tried this in the past. I really do think the Renaissance of wine in this country is due in a large part to small wineries being able to market their product nationally via the Internet. Think of all the wines I would never have tried (or even known existed) without wine.woot. If you drive through Virginia, there's a little winery at practically every exit, and all of our legislators are "we love small business" (yeah, right) Republicans.
In other words, why would they do this to me?!?!
Copy of my letter, feel free to use:
I know your time is valuable; I will keep this short. I have just recently learned that wine can no longer be purchased in Virginia through a third-party online site (wine.woot.com is one I have used for many years). I feel that this does a grave disservice to the consumer and to the wineries themselves. Wineries are small businesses, with a limited and highly regulated product. Third party websites allow small wineries to sell their products to people who simply would otherwise never be exposed to them. No brick-and-mortar store can stock the variety that a third party distributor can provide, and few provide the national and international exposure a website brings. Smaller wineries that cannot market their product to national chain stores, or supply that kind of bulk, end up cut out of the marketplace. The consumer, meanwhile, never gets to see the fantastic offerings of these small vintners without this kind of distribution. I cannot tell you how many wines, made in how many states, I have enjoyed thanks to wine.woot.com; the number is in the hundreds easily. The renaissance of wine in many states is due in no small part to the Internet and the greater exposure to these small wineries.
I was stunned to discover that Virginia, of all places, has come down against small business, especially in wine. There are somewhere in the neighborhood of 230 Virginia wineries in every region of this state, from Hampton Roads to the Blue Ridge to the Shenandoah Valley, and most of them produce only small volumes of each vintage. If Virginia wants to have the same viticulture as other states like California, Oregon, and New York, we must promote small wineries selling through third party distribution, giving our products a national and even international market.
As Republicans, gentlemen, you speak a great deal about the importance of small business in America. I sincerely hope it wasn't all just lip-service.
Thank you for your time.