In the last five years, the role of marketing portals and pick-and-pack warehouses in the direct shipping of wine has evolved from stake in the ground phase to nascent maturity. The most significant third party players have shifted from trying to find a legal, profitable model to converging on a core set of legal principles that are slowly finding buy-in from formerly skeptical regulators.
Last week, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission released a Marketing Practices Advisory that largely follows guidance issued by the California Alcoholic Beverage Control in 2011. These white papers shrewdly recognize the market needs and realities of the modern craft alcohol beverage business. In the internet age, third parties can vastly expand small business capacities and give producers the tools to master their own markets—bringing transaction costs down and ensuring regulatory compliance and transparency. At the same time, responsible third parties allow regulatory agencies to spend their limited resources on enforcement rather than paperwork.
The truth is, law is often a lagging indicator to markets. There’s a good deal of sense in this reality since thoughtful policy can only emerge in the wake of a business paradigm shift—when standards become steadier and more predictable. With California and Texas now embracing common rules, the signs are clearer that direct shipping has reached a new phase. Regulators and trade associations take note.