Just received a response from Delegate Rust:
Dear Mr. [redacted]:
Thank you for your email regarding third party marketing portals for wine.
I contacted the VA Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (VA-ABC)
(without using your name) and their response is as follows:
"If Delegate Rust’s constituent was able to purchase wine from a third-party
marketing portal prior to November, 2012, it was illegal. Such sales have
never been legal under Virginia law. We have from time to time become aware
of illegal shipments, and I think that third-party marketers believed that
if a winery had a Virginia direct shipping permit, it was okay for the
marketing portal to sell the wine for them and forward the order for
shipment. That was not the case.
In 2010, the General Assembly considered legislation to make third-party
marketing portals legal, and the resulting laws, Chapters 317 and 561 of the
2010 Acts of Assembly, made the use of marketing portals by Virginia
shippers legal, but only marketing portals operated by agricultural
cooperatives and approved by ABC. The intention was to allow groups of
wineries to band together and set up marketing portals, but not allow
unlicensed web companies to sell wine to Virginia consumers. To date, no
marketing portal has applied for approval, nor has anyone applied for a
Virginia marketing portal license.
I expect the change by the marketing portal used by the constituent was due
to some publicity of the Virginia law in California wine circles last year.
Suddenly, they realized that they had been selling to Virginia consumers
illegally, and stopped."
I hope you find this information helpful. Should you have further
questions, I would be happy to investigate on your behalf.
Thomas Davis Rust
Virginia House of Delegates, 86th District
So apparently it isn't a new law; wine.woot was just shipping to us illegally
I haven't had the chance to do the research yet, but I don't see why the act couldn't be amended to allow third party marketing portals which aren't run by agricultural cooperatives to sell wine. I'm guessing they could just strike the "agricultural cooperative" part and leave the rest intact. We can at least ask our delegates to do so.
My original message:
I am a resident of the 86th District, and on the weekends my friends and I often
visit the wineries of Loudoun County. Virginia makes some wonderful wines;
our Commonwealth's Viogniers, Chardonnays, and Sauvignon Blancs are second
However, there are many wines which are not produced in Virginia - or
which, when produced, are inferior to those produced elsewhere in the United
States. Prior to 4 November 2012 this wasn't an issue: a quick search on
the internet yielded a number of websites which were happy to ship wine from
Oregon, California, and anywhere else in the country directly to my home
here in Sterling.
Unfortunately, I am no longer able to use third party marketing portals on
the internet to purchase and ship wine to my home. In a number of cases,
the winery from which I wish to purchase the wine has a license to ship wine
to the Commonwealth, but as the marketing portal is not licensed as an
"agricultural cooperative", it is unable to relay my order to the winery,
and I am thus unable to purchase the wine. Contacting the winery is often
fruitless; in many cases, these are small, family owned operations which
contracted with a third party marketer because they are unable to ship the
wines themselves - they lack the personnel or the logistical capacity to do
Sir, while I am uncertain as to whether there was a change in the ABC
regulations or simply a shift in enforcement, I urge a return to the way
things were prior to 4 November 2012. I would like to be able to purchase
legal products where and how I choose; I have made several dozen such
purchases in the past three years without issue. Virginia's wine industry
does not need protectionist intervention from the legislature; Virginia's
wineries make a fine product, and have been very successful over the past
several years in the absence of such protections.
Thank you for your time.
TL;DR - it's been the law since at least 2010, but I don't see why we can't ask to have it changed.