The liquor lobbyists will again try to stop Tennessee consumers from having the ability to buy wine online.
The prospects for the Tennessee legislation are far from clear. Even supporters say it will be difficult to pass the legislation, given the clout of the alcohol industry, which strongly opposes changes to the law.
Bratten, 35, describes himself as a “freak for wine” who hunts online for small vineyards and hard-to-find vintages. He’ll travel across the country to sample them, he said, but the average wine consumer can’t.
“Right now, even if there is a wine out there that’s really good, if the distributor hasn’t gotten latched onto it and brought it in, legally there’s no way for anyone to get those wines,” he said. “That’s wrong in my eyes.”
To outsiders, the debate may seem like an arcane regulatory struggle.
But wine enthusiasts have found common cause with free-marketeers who argue that systems such as Tennessee’s, which relies on large wholesalers, stifles free enterprise and a booming Internet wine market, to the detriment of consumers.