Matthew Mann
February 27, 2008 | Compliance | Matthew Mann

REthinkCompliance: Ship Direct = Ship Correct

I’ve been working in wine shipping compliance for over a decade. In the past, some wineries would ship anywhere and everywhere, regardless of the rules. As more states move to permit systems allowing direct shipment and greater accountability by wineries, some of these wineries continue to ship anywhere and everywhere, often because of ignorance of the rules. Fortunately, I worked with wineries who took the high road, shipped only to where it is legal, filed required reports on time and paid taxes when due. I can tell you from experience that the high road is also the right road. Aside from any moral or ethical judgments, shipping illegally is simply bad business, both for the individual winery and for the industry as a whole.

Better for the Winery
Taking the high road by staying compliant is by far the better business plan. Sure, there are some increased costs in time and effort to complete compliance reports and pay permit fees. But these costs can be anticipated and worked into your profitability model. Any successful business operates with a plan and certainty of expected results based upon that plan. Additionally, staying compliant keeps the business owner in control. In a heavily regulated industry such as alcohol, placing the future of your business in the hands of outside parties such as state regulatory agencies is a bad idea. Retain as much control as possible by staying within the boundaries of the law. The cost of getting caught - substantial fines, license suspension, even having your federal permit suspended by TTB, far outweigh the short-term benefit of whatever sale was made illegally. Fines that gut whatever profit you made off that sale aside, if you have your license to produce wine pulled, you’re out of business. Your entire capital investment in land and equipment is put at substantial risk.

Better for the Wine Industry
Since Granholm, direct shipment opponents are attempting to scare states into believing wineries can’t be trusted to follow the rules, that shipping abuse is rampant, and that the only way to combat these abuses is to level down…essentially eliminating direct shipping altogether. The basic premise suggests that wineries are inherently irresponsible and can’t be trusted. This is why it is critically important that wineries follow the rules and stay in compliance with state laws. By staying compliant, arguments of wineries’ ignoring or abusing the laws have no merit. The wind is taken out of the sails of direct shipment opponents. Further, demonstrated compliance by wineries will create an atmosphere in state legislatures of trust that the wineries will follow the rules. This trust will result in less confusing, less restrictive and less expensive rules and regulations to follow.

I support efforts to remove barriers limiting access and choice in the marketplace. The best way to accomplish that is to play by the rules as they stand and advocate for change in the state legislatures. REthinkCompliance was designed to assist wineries in staying compliant by taking the confusion and burden out of compliance at NO COST to the winery. Not only does REthinkCompliance provide access to the state laws in an easy to understand fashion, it provides compliance checks to make sure you are within volume limits or not shipping to dry areas. Best of all, REthinkCompliance generates complete, accurate sales, excise and shipment reports easily so you can file reports on time, pay the taxes due, and stay compliant. I encourage you to visit the site at www.rethinkcompliance.com. Not only will it save you time and money, but you’ll be helping the industry demonstrate that wineries can be counted on to play by the rules.



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