Human Creativity And Interstate Wine Shipment

Lynne Kiesling

One of the things we did in California this weekend was visit some Santa Cruz County wineries: Bonny Doon, David Bruce, Bargetto, and Burrell School Vineyards. The Bonny Doon visit was a fun as you would expect if you are at all familiar with their wines, their bottle labels, and their sense of humor. All of the wineries were great fun, very friendly folks, and a wide variety of great wines.

More on that later. In the course of conversation with one tasting room expert I learned about a place in St. Helena, California called Fifty Five Degrees. They are a climate-controlled storage company, but with a difference.

Say I live in Maryland, one of the most egregious states for the interdiction of interstate wine shipments (in Maryland it’s a felony), but say I love all of those funky, small winery Cabs and Zins that I can’t get at home (because my local wine store is also pretty much an Arm of the State, although in Maryland at least private citizens can legally operate stores to sell wine). The winery is not allowed to sell and ship me wine, but it can sell me wine that I then store, say, at a climate-controlled facility in St. Helena. Then when I want to bring some of the wine home to consume or to put in my own cellar, I ship it to myself.

That’s one of the value propositions of Fifty Five Degrees; you rent shipment receipt and storage services from them, and then when you ship that Screaming Eagle Cab or Raffanelli Zin case into Maryland, you are shipping it to yourself, and it’s not a commercial interstate wine shipment.

Just makes me love life to hear stories like this about how wonderfully creative we can be.


6 thoughts on “Human Creativity And Interstate Wine Shipment

  1. My first Bonny Doon purchase was solely due to my deep affinity for Ralph Steadman. Imagine my delight when I actually liked the wine that was behind the labels.

    I also discovered Flying Dog Ale the same way.

  2. Ahhh, as an Ohio resident, that’s music to my ears. With the interstate shipment restrictions and state-mandated minimum mark-ups at each level of distribution, Ohio is truly Wine Hell.

  3. Thought I’d offer an observation – since wine is so expensive in Ohio, many folks who enjoy wine with their meals choose to dine at home. In response, a number of restaurants in Ohio (at least those near my apartment in Akron) permit patrons to bring their own wine into the restaurant. It’s an interesting optimization problem — restaurants are clearly sacrificing some wine sales in exchange for a greater number of restaurant patrons.

  4. I’m a big fan of the Bonny Doon Pacific Rim Dry Riesling.

    Most rieslings are just too sweet for my taste, even the allegedly dry rieslings. Not the Bonny Doon. An awfully good value.

  5. I’m a big fan of the Bonny Doon Pacific Rim Dry Riesling.

    Most rieslings are just too sweet for my taste, even the allegedly dry rieslings. Not the Bonny Doon. An awfully good value.

  6. BYO restaurants have been common in Australia for many years. While they do forego wine sales they also forego the expense of maintaining a wine inventory. In the restaurant business, which is capital intensive to start with, this can be a significant savings.

    A large number of restaurants in the United States have moved in the direction of BYO in recent years, but most continue to charge large corkage fees (for opening the bottles and serving the wine). This tends to make BYO worthwhile for large parties of people drinking expensive wine, but not for couples or small groups drinking just one or two bottles of less expensive wine.

    Lynne, I hope you got a chance to check out the David Bruce Paso Robles Zin from 2001, a classy balance of fruit and pepper from a winery better known for Pinots.

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