Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Supreme Court Lifts Interstate Restrictions

Wineries and wine lovers rejoiced yesterday in what could be a big boost to the wine business in the US. The US Supreme Court struck down a portion of a commerce law restricting interstate shipments of wine. It has been illegal for wineries to ship wine across state lines to Indiana and 23 other states -- until yesterday. It now appears that most wineries in the US will be able to ship wine to their customers -- great new for those of us who make the yearly Napa pilgrimage.

Until now, the drill in Napa involved driving into town to the local pack/ship store, packing your wine in bulky expensive bottle shipping boxes (some of which might have traveled out with you empty on the plane), addressing the box from yourself to yourself, and paying a hefty fee. Most private stores follow a "don't ask/don't tell" policy. You ship your own.

But, no more! No more skirting legalities just to get wine home! While not only opening new lines of business for small wineries like those in many Midwestern states, it also makes visiting and purchasing wine on California wine trips more enjoyable also. Instead of being limited to the few bottles you can take on the plane, you can now plan your own buying trip.

Many wineries are still sorting out the details and what this ruling means exactly for them so don't innundate them with calls this week, but, for consumers it couldn't be better news. Are retailers a little nervous? Sure, possibly. But I think this will only be good for everyone's business. I never have ordered wine direct from the winery that I could have purchased at, say, Kahn's, and as consumers become more familiar with and interested in wine, they will come back. Ultimately, it won't hurt their business. I say "more growth for all" in the wine trade. This ruling will open wine up with consumers on a whole new level.

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