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Grapes Of Wrath

Outdated laws put the squeeze on small wineries.

This story appears in the July 1996 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

These days, creating a bottle of fine cabernet is the easy part for many small wineries. The hard part? Finding a way to get their wines into consumers' glasses.

The problem, say many, is obscure laws dating back to the Prohibition era that restrict wine and other alcoholic beverages from entering states except through official channels such as private distributors or a government authority. In recent years, a major consolidation of liquor distributors and retail channels has caused the pipeline to consumers to shrink, squeezing small wineries and wine retailers out. Seeing no other choice, some have turned to direct shipping to reach customers.

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