Former Patriot Pushes Wine Law on Beacon Hill
Drew Bledsoe and other out-of-state winemakers are prohibited from shipping directly to their customers if they have a distributor.
Massachusetts is one of 11 states that doesn't allow out-of-state vineyards to directly ship wine to their customers, and former New England Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe is urging Beacon Hill legislators to pass a bill that would change that law.
"Very simply put, this bill is fair, and it's right. It's fair to the consumers to be able to purchase wine directly from the wineries, it's fair to the small businesses like ours who want to sell directly to the customers, it's right for the state—it actually increases revenue to the state—and in the states that this has happened, it's also benefited the package stores and the distributors," Bledsoe said during a press conference on the State House steps Thursday afternoon.
The bill, an Act Regulating the Direct Shipment of Wine, was put forth by Rep. Theodore Speliotis (D-Danvers) on Jan. 22. Right now it's in the Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee and no vote is scheduled, according to Jeremy Benson of Free the Grapes.
Massachusetts is the seventh largest wine-consuming state in the union, Bledsoe said. If Massachusetts changes its law, he said he believes the remaining 10 will follow suit.
Only 1 percent of wine that's sold in the United States is sold direct, and Bledsoe said it is more profitable to do so.
"That's a motivation for this, and we don't make any bones about it. It also benefits not only our business, but a lot of mom and pop wineries across the country," he said.
Bledsoe's wine, called Doubleback and based in Walla Walla, WA, is sold in Massachusetts, through distributors, and in 14 other states. His friend and protege Tom Brady tried to buy it but Bledsoe had to tell him he couldn't ship a case to him. Instead, Bledsoe sent it to Brady's dad in California.
"I think his dad drank it all," he said.
Although Bledsoe made an appearance on Beacon Hill Thursday, don't expect many public appearances from him anytime soon.
When asked if he was thinking about a run for public office, Bledsoe said, "Never say never, but I'm not looking to jump back into public life again. I enjoy working in my winery and raising my family and living a pretty quiet life out there in Oregon."