Skip to main content


"The Majority of States Now Allow Direct Shipping. Four states—Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia—were added to the list of states that now allow interstate, direct-to-consumer wine shipments. This brings the total number of legal states to 26, representing 53% of U.S. wine consumption (source: 2001 figures from Adams Wine Handbook 2002). Eighteen years ago, no states had enabling legislation; this year, more states turned in 2003 than any year."

My take:

Who knows where this takes us, but it does raise some interesting benefits and consequences should more state turn. The winners to me if this continues would be the small wineries that do not get on shelves, and of course consumers.

The losers to me would be the liquor distributors who have controlled the flow into these stores, and probably the Kendall Jacksons and Mondavi's of the world who have a seat on every store shelf in the country.

New York has had a state court rule in favor of overturning the interstate restrictions. The defenders of the restrictions in NY and in other state cases have been the distributors (Charmer etc.) The winery reps have argued that there are more wineries than ever and more wineries are going out of business. It is unconstitutional, in their opinion. It is in the middle of appeals in NY now, from what I have read.

These restrictions were put in place after prohibition, so the states could control the traffic of alcohol into their state. It was seen as a compromise to overturn prohibition federally. It is obvious that it's only practical reason for continuing now is the control held by the big producers, distributors and their political power.

Most feel (from what I have read), if they lose any more states, that this is going to the Supreme court.
Original Post

Replies sorted oldest to newest

Seems funny,

As if the big companies have a right to no competition. I know we have it better than quite a few states and Canada here in Ohio, but I believe the only reason we have seen some nice wines in the last couple of years is because of lousy price increases. I am on the doubting end that the distributors worked hard to get these rare wines into the state. I am also tired of the SEVERE lack of discounts that occur, with vintages that have sat and collected dust for 2 years.

I will still buy from the distributors and their strictly OK prices... I just want the freedom to buy some Neal Family, or a bottle or two of Pride before it sells out in a week. Big deal.

Mad Grrrrrr


"Drink up, me hardies, YO HO!"

Parkside Church

Griffin House
Having followed this over the past several years until Texas finally decided not to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court about the overturned State law I've made some observations I'll share FWIW:

1. To start, I am not a lawyer. So take everything below with a grain of salt.

2. The lawsuits that have been brought against state laws have mostly been on the basis of preferential treatment of in state wineries versus out of state wineries. These are also the most successful ones. They are generally overturned on the basis that the amendement that repealed prohibition and turned over regulation of the distribution of alcohol to each state does not give the state the right for giving preferential treat to in state wineries over out of state wineries. That is because the Constitution itself clearly states that any state cannot restrict Interstate Commerce. This is fundamental to the Constitution as opposed to an Amendment to the Constitution.

3. If a state's law is overturned on appeal to a Federal court it does not mean that the state cannot go back and revise it's defective law. So beware. That new found freedom to order wine from out of state could disappear as quickly as it appeared. The basic rub here is related to number 2 above. If a state law basically says "ALL alcohol must go through a distributor and retailer no matter the source" that is perfectly acceptable in all of the rulings I've seen so far. That is why PA residents are seriously screwed. Their system works this way and in the few cases I've seen this has been upheld as legit.

4. By way of example, 85% of the wine on retail shelves in the State of Texas is placed there by 4 distributors. By far most of the wine that enters this state enters via a distributor. I seriously doubt that will change in my lifetime.

5. Distributors profits are not in jeopardy in the least by my ability to order 12 cases of wine a year from out of state. Distributors profits are in jeopardy if other distributors enter the state IMO.

6. I'll continue to buy at retail. It is by far the most cost efficient way to purchase the bulk of the wine out there. I suspect others will do the same for the most part.

7. One point of contention. I seriously doubt you'll see this issue taken to the Supreme Court. States, lawmakers, lobbyists and distributors don't want it to go to the Supreme Court. Why do you think Texas decided not to appeal to the Supreme Court at the 11th hour after having clearly said it would up to that very moment? Because the Supreme Court has historically ruled in favor of free Interstate trade time and again over the rights of an individual state. If it hits the Supreme Court it is likely to go that way. States and distributors don't want that. They'd rather do like they did in Texas. They'll fight it all the way up to the US Appeals Court level, taking every victory they can and then stop right there. Once they lose at that level they'll fire up their lobbyist effort in the state legislature instead to have changes made to the law to suit their purposes. Don't believe me? Then why did Texas stop the appeal? Why did the four distributors in Texas employ a full time lobbyist and spend $750,000 lobbying the state legislature during the last legislative session? We all know why. You employ a defensive strategy and if that fails you fall back, regroup and pursue from another angle.

End of observations. Take them for what they are worth. Nothing.


Add Reply

Link copied to your clipboard.