Hindering growth? Oklahoma wineries want to make Oklahoma a "direct shipment" state, allowing them to send wine to the homes of in-state customers. The change also would open the state up to other wineries, which could then ship into Oklahoma. Currently, all Oklahomans must buy wine in person, either at a winery or in a liquor store.
Allowing wineries to ship into Oklahoma would bypass the wholesalers who are responsible for selling wine to the liquor stores. It is a move most wholesalers have fought for years.
"Oklahoma wineries are really handicapped by not being able to tap into the shipping market," said Butler, who is the owner of Summerside Vineyards, Winery & Inn. "In the world of the Internet, people are used to buying products from all over the world, but unfortunately wine is tightly controlled and industry rules can get in the way of the industry growing."
Wine only can be sold through wholesalers in Oklahoma, but there is no law requiring them to carry any certain wine. If a wholesaler won't buy an Oklahoma wine, the winery has no way to sell it outside of direct sales on its premises.
Wholesalers argue there is no way to ensure minors won't be buying wine over the Internet and say the demand is not there for Oklahoma wine.
"This is a demand problem, not a supply problem," said Chad Alexander, a spokesman for several Oklahoma wholesalers. "If the demand is there, the supply will be, too."