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  ILCC Industry Education Division

NEWS RELEASE

 

Gov. Blagojevich signs law to help Illinois wineries continue to reach new customers

HB429, which goes into effect June 1, 2008, will help Illinois wineries continue to be competitive

DATE: October 3, 2007
CONTACT: Ted Penesis
(ted.penesis@illinois.gov)


CHICAGO—Surrounded by distillers and vineyard and winery owners and operators, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today took steps to help Illinois wineries continue to expand. The Governor signed a new law that will allow wine makers to ship wine directly to residents of Illinois who are over the age of 21. Illinois will remain a reciprocal state for the shipping of wine until this new law takes effect on June 1, 2008 (the "reciprocity" system is explained later in this release).

House Bill 429, sponsored by State Representative Edward Acevedo (D-Chicago) and State Senator Ira Silverstein (D-Chicago), represents an agreement between Illinois wineries and liquor distributors concerning the direct shipment of wine to consumers.

“Illinois has a vibrant and growing wine industry, which is quickly becoming an integral part of the state’s culture, as well as putting more and more people to work,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “This legislation builds on our ongoing efforts to promote Illinois wineries, and allows them to continue to expand and remain competitive.”

HB 429 allows Illinois wineries to sell a limited supply of their product directly to consumers, with distributors handling the rest. Wine makers will be allowed to sell up to 12 cases of wine a year directly to those of legal age in Illinois. The bill includes several safety precautions to ensure wine recipients are of legal age, including requiring the delivery person to verify the recipient’s age and identity by checking his or her identification. The Illinois Liquor Control Commission will also conduct compliance operations to ensure wine shippers are following the law.

“This bill shows that the state of Illinois recognizes the importance of the wine industry to our economy. Grapes grow from Genoa up north to Cobden in Southern Illinois, and this legislation will bring these vineyards continued prosperity,” said Lainie Krozel, Acting Executive Director of the Liquor Control Commission.

HB 429 requires the Illinois Liquor Control Commission to license and regulate wine shippers and report to the General Assembly on a bi-annual basis the impact of wine shipping on Illinois. Wine shipper’s license will cost between $250 and $1,000, depending on the size of the wine maker. Approved wine shippers must report how much wine they are shipping to Illinois residents and pay tax on wine shipped in the same fashion that wine manufacturers are taxed. Previously, direct wine shipments were only allowed in states that had reciprocity with Illinois.

“With this legislation, Illinois’ wineries and liquor distributors were able to come together with the state to advance our growing wine industry. My thanks to Governor Blagojevich and all of our statewide partners,” said Sen. Silverstein.

Adds Illinois Liquor Control Commission (ILCC) Chairman Irving J. Koppel: “By buying directly from wineries throughout the United States, Illinois wine connisseurs will likely save money and enjoy an expanded selection of wine choices. Additionally, this legislation will strengthen the fiscal health of Illinois’ wine industry and increase the flow of tax dollars into our state.”

The Liquor Commission will also conduct periodic alcohol compliance operations to investigate whether these direct wine shipments are being sold to persons under 21 years of age. “Through this legislation,” notes Koppel, “the Liquor Commission will continue its commitment to combating underage drinking by ensuring direct wine shipments do not end up in the hands of our teens.”

“This bill represents a long journey to reach a compromise that will help move our young industry forward,” Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Association President Paul Renzaglia said. “Illinois consumers can now continue to buy their favorite wines from wineries across the country, which are now placed on equal footing in the state’s soaring market for quality wine.”

“We would like to thank the Governor and the Legislature for passing this bill that we think will help this bourgeoning industry,” said Paul and Diane Hahn of the Mackinaw Valley Vineyard. “We think this solution is first of all good for consumers, and it has the added benefit of creating jobs and economic activity throughout the state of Illinois. I think it’s a real shot in the arm for agri-tourism.”

Featuring more than 68 wineries and approximately 450 grape growers across the state, the Illinois wine industry produces 500,000 gallons of wine per year and creates an annual economic impact of more than $253 million and supports 2,300 jobs. September marked the state’s third annual Illinois Wine Month, when wineries across the state went all-out to offer travelers a memorable experience with festivals, tastings, grape stomps and unique opportunities to meet with and learn from Illinois vintners. Illinois Wine Month was established in 2005 by Gov. Blagojevich to recognize and enhance the growing Illinois wine industry.

The Illinois Bureau of Tourism promotes the Illinois wine industry through a comprehensive public relations and marketing effort to highlight the state’s wineries and draw additional visitors to our state. Efforts include a renewed Web presence at www.illinoiswine.com, a marketing brochure and print advertisements in Illinois and neighboring states featuring the wine industry as a destination driver in 3-day packages. The purpose of these efforts is to continue to build media and consumer awareness of Illinois as a legitimate wine-producing state and to continue to drive visitors to Illinois wineries.

To support the state’s growing number of vintners, the Illinois Department of Agriculture provides the grape and wine industry with grants to hire a viticulturist and an enologist. The viticulturist offers expert advice on growing grapes in our state and insight on how to keep their vines healthy through various weather conditions. The enologist helps wineries perfect their winemaking.

Remember, Illinois remains a reciprocal state until June 1, 2008. Please also keep in mind, laws regarding direct shipment of wine to consumers are changing rapidly throughout the rest of the United States as well. In other words, what once was legal may now be illegal. Therefore, you are encouraged to call each state prior to shipment.

As an Illinois licensee, it is your responsibility to know the laws in other states prior to shipping alcoholic beverages to an out-of-state customer. Violation of another state’s laws can result in an enforcement action being taken against your license.

For state contact information, please visit the website of The Wine Institute, which has phone numbers, faxes, and addresses for liquor control boards in all fifty states.


 

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