Yay! Home wine buyers rejoice!

The US Supreme court decided today, 5-4, to allow home shipments of wine between states that prohibited it before.


Not a total victory for freemarketeers, it allows states to restrict home deliveries, but the restrictions must be the same for inter- and intra-state purchases. So if a state decides to prohibit all home deliveries, it can, but not just inter-state ones.

The dissenting view

That doesn’t make any sense to me. It’s the same argument used against pornography – since a kid might see it (and it might harm him, goes the logic), adults cannot be allowed to have it at all.

If winery wants to prevent a kid from ordering and receiving wine, they can just put “adult must sign for package” on the shipment, a protocol already in use. And the payment of the order by credit card will already reduce the possibility of a kid getting drunk.

This should help the small wineries a lot, and I can’t see it adversely affecting distributors much, either. It’s a win-win decision.

Drink up!

“Adult Signature Required” respected just about as much as “Fragile” in my experience by shippers.

ABCC in MA pulled license of shipper after they followed trucks and found that signatures rarely if ever obtained when shipping alcoholic beverages. So no way to get wine or beer delivered in MA.

Then crack down on the shipper, don’t crack down on the law-abiding citizens who aren’t violating anything.

Some people use cars to run over pedestrians, too, but that’s no reason to prohibit cars or walking.

Am I the only one reading this article? This is the second time in an hour that I’ve seen people implying that it’s now open season to anybody to buy wine from anywhere. The Supreme Court struck down laws in Michigan and New York.

Yes, this will mean that laws in other states have to be rewritten to be non-exclusionary, but it is NOT a declaration of free trade for all states.

True, but it’s a major step in the right direction for the entire industry.

I’ll be raising my glass tonight to toast the decision.


To further what FilmGeek says, the new law only applies to direct shipments from wineries. This doesn’t mean I can call Joe’s Liquor in Los Angeles and have 'em ship me anything I want, legally.

On the other hand, I live in Michigan, and have bought wine over the net (and mail-order, back before the net was around) quite often. I didn’t even know it was an issue until I read the article quoted in the OP. I’ve never tried buying directly from a winery, but I do know of several wine shops around the country that will gladly take my credit card number and send me a shipment of wine. As far as I know, it’s perfectly legal.

As far as the “under 21” deal, man, I had my days as a desperate young 'un, looking for liquor, but there’s no way in hell I would have ordered it through the mail and had it delivered. The under-21s are looking for the cheapest stuff out there, not a nice bottle of 1978 Bordeaux. It’s a tenuous argument, claiming that it would put liquor in the hands of kids, IMO.

Unh, you do understand how SCOTUS decisions affect other states, don’t you? Any state law that is substantually similar to the one decided as unconstitutional would be unlikely to be enforced, as lower courts follow what the highest court dictates.

And as far as my OP, I never said it was free trade for all states. States will have to write reciprocal laws, that’s all. If in-state wineries want to sell directly to consumers, they will have to permit out-of-state firms to do likewise. That’s all the decision means. And it means that liquor laws cannot carve out a special case from general trade laws; the protectionist prohibitions built into the Constitution apply to them as well.

In a way it IS free trade between states. In that out of state wineries are now treated exactly the same as in state wineries. A free trade agreement with Canada would not allow them to break our laws with respect to selling, just that they get treated equally with US firms.

These laws were nothing but transparent attempts to promote in state wineries by restricting access to out of state wineries. Yes, the states have the right to regulate alcohol sales, but that does not give them the right to restrict interstate commerce. Frankly, if the laws were to protect minors, why were in state wineries excluded from the restriction?

I live in Kansas, and I’m seeing people all over saying “hey we can buy wine now!!!” Well, you will be able to, but you’re not going to be able to do it overnight. Lots of these laws are in place, and I doubt very much if Kansas will pass a law that unrestricts interstate wine trade say, tomorrow.

I’m happy they’ve opened up these wineries to sell to other states. It’s definitely a step in the right direction.

Though, I wonder what will happen to the employees at wholesalers? Business is definitely going to drop off for them.

Doesn 't matter. Kansas has no authority to enforce such a law, and if they try to any penalties the authorities hand out will be declared void. Kansas can keep its law on the books forever, but that doesn’t change the fact that importers should be able to ignore it with impunity.


According to this page from a Missouri winery, they can ship to 11 states (including Illinois; yay!). Does that mean that the other 39 states have/had the same restrictive laws as the New York and Michigan statutes relative to the SCOTUS decision?

Oddly enough, the Missouri winery referenced above can ship to California. That’s funny, in a weird sort of way. To me, a California buyer importing wine from Missouri is like a Florida buyer importing orange juice from Illinois (not that Missouri doesn’t make some damn good wines, mind you!).

But SCOTUS left open the possibility that a state can pass a law prohibiting the mailorder purchase of liquor by any citizen from any state, including itself. That would be treating all states equally, but I wouldn’t call it free trade.

Liquor sure is treated differently than other commodities. I can imagine such a law being upheld, but could you imagine a law prohibiting mailorder purchase of, say, stuffed teddy bears or patchwork quilts?

Yeah, right. :rolleyes: You’ll have to show me.

Not necessarily. It means the 11 states that Missouri wineries can ship to have reciprocal laws with Missouri.

The other states do not, but that doesn’t mean it is illegal to ship to them from other states. Each state is different.

Currently there are 13 states with recipricol laws enacted.

There are 14 states (and Washington D.C.) with ‘limited/direct’ laws, meaning it’s harder, but direct shipments are allowed if certain criteria are met. (A permit, for example, is common.)

There are 23 states that prohibit interstate shipping entirely, although a few of those do allow what is known as ‘on site’ shipments.
Meaning, if a person were to visit a winery in Napa, they would have been able to carry back with them a case of wine, so they therefore can have that wine shipped to them, that one time only.

Justice Thomas is apparently concerned about competition with his own whinery.

I live in a state that doesn’t really restrict this sort of thing (we have a robust wine industry of our own), so the decision doesn’t affect me personally. Still, I’m happy for the industry in general.

Does anyone know of a list of states that will be affected by this decision? The laws in quite a few states appear to have been written by semi-literate chimpanzees with college degrees in bureaucracy, and I’m hoping someone’s translated them into English.

It’s hard to say which states (that currently limit or do not allow interstate shipping) will be affected, and how, but if you’re looking for a list of what the shipping laws for each state are, there are several great sites with that information.