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Old 30-06-2005, 07:51 AM
Garrison Hilliard
Posts: n/a

Bill seeks to lower Ohio wine prices

By John Eckberg
Enqurier staff writer

Ohio consumers would see lower wine prices and more competition under a bill
introduced Wednesday in the Ohio General Assembly.

The proposal by Rep. Bill Seitz, R-Green Township, would revamp 70 year-old laws
dating to Prohibition.

Yet House Bill 306, faces an uphill battle despite having 11 co-sponsors, Seitz
admitted. If passed, the bill would:

End a minimum mark-up of 33.3 percent at the wholesale level on wine sales.

Exclusive territories would end, as suppliers would have to respond to any
retailer who asks for product.

Offer wine retailers the opportunity to buy wine through a 30-day credit
structure. Today, retailers must pay cash for wine.

Create a commission of suppliers, wholesalers, retailers, consumers and
legislators to study and offer alternatives that would modernize Ohio’s wine
sale laws.

“Ohio is one of only two states that have a double layer of mark-up by state
law,” Seitz said. “And the wholesale minimum mark-up is a form of state price

“This legislation will encourage consumers to purchase wine in Ohio, instead of
visiting a retail location across the border that may offer the same bottle at a
cheaper price.”

Distributors have been discussing the measure with legislators for over a year,
said Lee Oberlag, vice president of corporate communications for Heidelberg
Distributing Co., a Queensgate wine and beer distributor that employs 200 and
was founded in 1938.

“Certainly it turns upside down the three-tier system as we know it in Ohio,”
Oberlag said.

“It goes against what is an orderly way of doing business. We are against it and
will be fighting it.”