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Supreme Court Rules on Interstate Wine Sales


Craig Camp
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  • 5 months later...

From the business section of today's NY Times:

On Dec. 7, the United States Supreme Court will hear arguments from small wineries and state regulators to decide whether those wineries can sell directly to out-of-state consumers, or whether they must use a state-mandated distribution system that, the winemakers argue, is far too costly.

+ + +

At the heart of the matter are regulations enacted after the approval of the 21st Amendment in 1933, which ended Prohibition and allowed states to regulate the sale of alcoholic beverages. At that time, New York and other states passed laws requiring out-of-state sellers of alcoholic beverages to sell only to licensed wholesalers in the state, who would then market the wine and other drinks to retailers.

For whatever it's worth, here is the 21st Amendment:

Article XXI

Section 1. The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.

Section 2. The transportation or importation into any State, Territory, or possession of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited.

Section 3. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by conventions in the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.

--

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Drink!

I refuse to spend my life worrying about what I eat. There is no pleasure worth forgoing just for an extra three years in the geriatric ward. --John Mortimera

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Does anyone know what the timeline for this case is? If oral arguments start today, when can we expect a ruling?

"It's better to burn out than to fade away"-Neil Young

"I think I hear a dingo eating your baby"-Bart Simpson

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There is an Op-Ed in the NYT on this issue today by Jim Clarke, wine and spirits editor of StarChefs.com.

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/07/opinion/07clarke.html

(Registration Required)

-mjr

�As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy, and to make plans.� - Ernest Hemingway, in �A Moveable Feast�

Brooklyn, NY, USA

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Does anyone know what the timeline for this case is? If oral arguments start today, when can we expect a ruling?

I believe most opinions are rendered within 2-4 months of the Oral Arguments which would mean a March/April timeframe. At the outside, the ruling must be made not later than June 2005 which is the end of the current term.

Bill

"I'm trying to think but nothing happens"
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This was the first argument heard today. Initial press reports are coming in.

AP Feed

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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The New York Times (reg. required) has an article today entitled Justices Pick Apart Ban on Wine Sales From State to State

This is encouraging.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

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- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

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first, thanks to Really Nice! for including a link to my piece on this.

what's interesting is how many questions i've subsequently gotten about *personal* shipments of wine -- i.e., buying a bottle yourself and sending it to Dad for his birthday in NY, MI, MA, OK, &c.

state law seems to vary on this point, but so does opinion from consumers, winemakers, legal poobahs, and the like.

anyone have any fun insights and/or horror stories about personal shipping?

[standard disclaimer: i may end up writing about this topic at some point, but will contact folks before i even think about putting anything in print.]

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anyone have any fun insights and/or horror stories about personal shipping?

Well, this isn't a personal shipping story, but . . .

I tried to ship a case to a couple in Minnesota, well after it became permissible to do so, and I received a nasty call from a UPS representative in Minneapolis saying that either I had to pay to have the case returned or they were going to destroy the contents!!

I had an extremely cathartic temper tantrum and the wine was delivered. I learned from that encounter that even eight months after the law had been changed, the UPS employees and supervisor in MN did not care or comprehend. For two years afterward, I printed out the Wine Institute's synopsis of the MN law and taped it to every MN shipment along with the shipping label. I also do that for other states that have recently changed their legislation, because obviously the carrier employees are not well-informed.

Another time I innocently UPS'd some wine to West Virginia, which is a totally legal, reciprocal state, and I got another nasty call from Kentucky stating that they were going to destroy the wine and not bother to return it, because it had arrived in their warehouse en route to WV!!

So then I discover that UPS refuses to fly wine anywhere, under the assumption that it might turn their carrier planes into Mile High Molotovs.

Therefore, if I need to leapfrog wine over the felony states, I use FedEx, which has no such reservations. However, even with the Wine Institute discount, they can be more expensive, and their software is more cumbersome. If they can ever compete with the UPS technology, I'm switching in a heartbeat.

UPS does have a special "Wine Shipper Contract" now, which I have, and it states that we are responsible for, basically, breaking any laws. So I can now UPS to more states, but since I never know when I'm going to get some Neo-Nazi interpretation, I stick to FedEx when in doubt.

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Mary Baker

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  • 3 months later...

*bump*

According to this Washington Post profile of Juanita Swedenburg (free reg. req.) , the High Court could be deciding her case "any time". Considering that she had her hearing back in December, it must be nerve-wracking to have to wait so long for a decision.

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*bump*

According to this Washington Post profile of Juanita Swedenburg (free reg. req.) , the High Court could be deciding her case "any time". Considering that she had her hearing back in December, it must be nerve-wracking to have to wait so long for a decision.

The decision most likely won't be issued until June.

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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  • 1 month later...

Ruling was announced this morning. It's 5 to 4 in favor of states not being allowed to pass laws prohibiting the buying of wine from out-of-state wineries.

And we all rejoiced, yay... yay...

Ruling should be posted later on at the SCpage.

Drink!

I refuse to spend my life worrying about what I eat. There is no pleasure worth forgoing just for an extra three years in the geriatric ward. --John Mortimera

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Ruling was announced this morning. It's 5 to 4 in favor of states not being allowed to pass laws prohibiting the buying of wine from out-of-state wineries.

And we all rejoiced, yay... yay...

Ruling should be posted later on at the SCpage.

:biggrin::biggrin::biggrin:

I'll be very interested to see who voted yea or nea.

When looking for the posting: "The case is Swedenburg, et al. v. Kelly, et al. Edward D. Kelly is the chairman of the New York State Liquor Authority. The court has combined the Swedenburg case with two other related cases, Jennifer M. Granholm, Governor of Michigan, et al. v. Eleanor Heald, et al.; and Michigan Beer & Wine Wholesalers Ass'n v. Eleanor Heald, et al." (from an April 5 Washington Post article referenced in an earlier post)

Edited by Alex (log)

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

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It's 5 to 4 in favor of states not being allowed to pass laws prohibiting the buying of wine from out-of-state wineries.

Good news but it's not quite as black and white as this statement implies. Reportedly the court ruled that it is unconstitutional to treat out-of-state producers differently from in-state producers. States can still ban the shipping of wines to individuals by out-of-state producers provided they also ban it by in-state producers.

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Exactly. The ruling, based on a cursory review of the sources, simply says that states must give equal treatment to in-state and out-of-state producers. Still, as a practical matter, I imagine the key states like New York are not about to ban in-state shipping, so it is effectively a big victory for the producers that want to ship to other states.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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The states that had banned out-of-state shipping are: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and Vermont. It's likely that states with a prohibitionist bent and little in the way of viticulture — Mississippi and Oklahoma, for example — will simply ban all shipping. Ditto states whose politicians have ties to wholesalers and their deep pockets. In fact, didn't New Jersey ban in-state shipping last year in anticipation of just such a ruling?

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