The Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) recently penned a piece that tears into supporters of DTC shipping. Specifically, Steven Harrison of VinoShipper, Blake Gray of Wine-Seracher.com and Lettie Teague of the Wall Street Journal drew the ire of WSWA.
WSWA concludes the opinions of others are false claims, which are bolstered by inaccurate data.
VinoShipper conducted a study (Blake Gray covered this study and is a co-culprit with VinoShipper in the eyes of WSWA) over a 3-year period in which there were nearly 634,000 attempted buys on its website and it discovered that only 943 attempted buys were made by minors. Which means only 0.15% of all attempted buys were performed by minors. With a miniscule number representing 0.15% of all attempted buys, it would lead a logical person to conclude that minors are not utilizing the online marketplace to access alcohol.
WSWA counters these glaring statistics by noting they are “based on a biased analysis,” mainly because it was performed by Taylor Harrison, who works for VinoShipper.
The WSWA misses one important point, VinoShipper did not develop the data, they collected and reported it. VinoShipper age verifies an attempted purchaser through IDology. IDology positively age verifies purchasers through public records. How it works is someone puts in their name and address; the software verifies the age. If the name and address matches and someone is above 21, the purchaser is accepted. If someone puts in a name and address that do not match, the purchaser is not accepted, even if they are above 21 and then they need to put in their proper name and address to get accepted. If someone puts in their name and address and is not 21, the purchaser is not accepted.
So, I need some explaining from WSWA, if VinoShipper did not make the data, but merely collected and reported someone else’s data, is it biased and how is it biased?
If we can all agree that IDology runs accurate software, which it does, then how is VinoShipper reporting IDology’s data somehow deemed inaccurate? VinoShipper is reporting from an objective data source. Unlike WSWA studies where polls are commissioned and questions presented in a biased way, the VinoShipper study takes data from an accurate and unbiased source and reports exactly what the data indicates. There is no fuzzy and subjective questioning to get to a result, which is hung out as gospel. That kind of study is what you call propaganda!
WSWA then calls into question VinoShipper’s claim that IDology blocked minors 100% of the time. If you notice from the explanation I provided above on IDology’s operations, you will easily understand why the success rate is perfect. Quite simply a minor will not be sold to when IDology software is utilized.
The next whitewashing WSWA attempts to make, is the data set is too small. VinoShipper utilized a data set of nearly 634,000 buyers over a three-year period, but since that represents a small amount of the total wine drinkers, this is a drop in the bucket and hence should not be deemed credible.
WSWA’s position is that if the sample size is too small percentagewise, then it should be deemed irrelevant.
But let’s compare VinoShipper’s sample size to WSWA’s conclusions on mothers being against DTC shipping.
WSWA commissioned a biased study (based on the questions developed) that had 2,000 participants. A quick Google search indicated that there are 85,000,000 mothers in America. So, if we are taking WSWA’s position that a study is not deemed relevant because of a small sample size, then WSWA would be in big trouble. With WSWA questioning 2,000 out of 85,000,000 mothers, its sample size represents 0.00002353% of the total eligible population.
Because I care about their consistency and to maintain their own credibility, I am asking WSWA to acknowledge the sample size in VinoShipper’s study or disavow their own study for not being accurate enough!
Finally, WSWA relies on a Massachusetts sting as evidence to demonstrate that 95% of online sellers sold to minors. But what we don’t have are the number of online sellers in this study.
Gallonage Limits and the Overtaxing Regulators
Next WSWA rips Lettie Teague’s position about New Jersey gallonage limits for a winery that desires to ship wine. New Jersey does not allow a winery that produces over 250,000 gallons of wine to ship into the state. Defending this ridiculous restriction, the wholesalers deem it necessary to protect small wineries from big wineries dominating the shipping market. Again, there is no evidence provided that the New Jersey gallonage limits save small wineries or that increased shipping limits kill small wineries in the other 45 states without a gallonage cap like New Jersey.
The irony of WSWA’s position is they publicly advocated for establishing a minimum production requirement of 1,000 gallons to qualify as a winery. So, an organization that publicly wants to destroy small wineries, now wants to protect them.
Maybe we should start putting caps on distributors in states.
WSWA also takes the position that enhanced winery shipping will tax the overburdened state regulatory agencies that are already stretched then. But the concern over the overtaxed state regulatory agencies was not raised when retail delivery was expanded. Retail delivery has less safeguards and is prone to more abuse than DTC shipping. However, it does not become a concern of WSWA, because with retail delivery, it goes through the in-state three-tier system and this is what it is all about.
Further, DTC shipping, as was mentioned in Granholm, (Technology has only improved since 2005) can be audited and investigated through electronic records that are required to be kept by licensees and through common carrier records.
In concluding, it is all a folly. The positions make no sense and are inconsistent with their own philosophy.
Add on the theory that DTC shipping will shrink the market and you really begin to scratch your head. Since Granholm legalized DTC winery shipping across the country, the amount of wineries doubled. If DTC does not grow the economic pie, why are distillers, retailers, and brewers across the country advocating for greater DTC privileges?
I will let the reader decide who is right or wrong on this debate, my job, peel away the layers of the onion.