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Grapes Of Wrath Outdated laws put the squeeze on small wineries.

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

The problem, say many, is obscure laws dating back to theProhibition era that restrict wine and other alcoholic beveragesfrom entering states except through official channels such asprivate distributors or a government authority. In recent years, amajor consolidation of liquor distributors and retail channels hascaused the pipeline to consumers to shrink, squeezing smallwineries and wine retailers out. Seeing no other choice, some haveturned to direct shipping to reach customers.

"Small wineries and retailers see the existing wholesaledistribution network as anti-competitive and anti-consumer,"says Rich Cartiere, editor of Wine Business Publications inSonoma, California.

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