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More Wine Bills Working Their Way Through Springfield

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Feb 18, 2008 3:00PM

2008_02_wineguy.jpgAfter being slighted by the passage of HB 429 last summer, the members of the Illinois Winemakers Alliance - comprising the larger wineries and vineyards in the state - have taken those lessons to heart.

The IWA has enlisted the assistance of state Senator Carol Pankau (R-Bloomington) in filing SB2121. The bill, if passed, would amend the Illinois Liquor Control Act of 1934, allowing larger in-state wineries the ability to purchase a self-distribution license and self-distribute up to 25,000 gallons of wine a year to customers.

When HB 429 goes into effect in June, IWA members will have to use a distributor to sell the majority of their wine through a distributor. The most obvious result is higher prices to the consumer. For a larger winery like Lynfred in Roselle, which has tasting rooms in Naperville and Wheaton, HB 429 prohibits them from delivering their own wine to their tasting rooms. They would have to sell their wine to a distributor, who would then deliver the wine to their tasting rooms at a marked-up price.

SB 2121, if passed, seeks to keep in place this right for the larger wineries and maintain their ability to sell their product directly to their customers. These were rights that were already in place prior to the distributor-backed HB 429. Lynfred marketing director Christina Anderson-Heller wrote to Chicagoist that the IWA is meeting with Senator Pankau Wednesday and that hopefully they should have more news to report by the end of the week. Pleased as we are to see this happening, we don't see the state's major beer, wine and spirits distributors simply allowing this to happen. We expect them to mount a vigorous opposition.