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Romney Stands up for Consumers, Vetoes Wine Bill

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Governor Mitt Romney today vetoed a bill limiting the ability of out-of-state wineries to ship directly to Massachusetts consumers, calling the legislation "anti-consumer."

The bill prohibits direct sales by wineries that produce more than 30,000 gallons of wine a year if they have been represented by a Massachusetts wholesaler for the past six months. The provision would therefore prevent a significant number of wineries from shipping wine directly to consumers. Romney said the proposed new law "would benefit a cartel of liquor wholesalers that do not want to give up their monopoly on the distribution of wine."

"This bill does not give wine lovers the opportunity to purchase the bottlings they want," said Romney. "It creates artificial barriers to protect Massachusetts wholesalers at the expense of a free market."

A U.S. Supreme Court ruling this year struck down bans on direct wine shipments in states like Massachusetts. Following this ruling, a federal district court in Boston invalidated those portions of state law that restrict out-of-state wineries from shipping directly to Massachusetts consumers. Under the old law, only local wineries could ship to Massachusetts residents.

Jeremy Benson, the executive director of Free the Grapes!, a national coalition of 300,000 consumers and thousands of wineries, said the intent of the Supreme Court was to open up the market, but that the Massachusetts legislation would effectively keep it closed.

"Contrary to its title, this bill does not allow for direct-to-consumer wine shipments. It protects the wine wholesalers at the expense of consumer choice. We hope the Legislature will consider the proven model direct shipping bill, which is already working in many states and supports consumer choice," said Benson.

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