The Supreme Court gets it right


It is great news that the Supreme Court has decided that states may not discriminate against out—of—state wineries by banning direct shipment of wine, while permitting in—state wineries the same privilege. If states want to ban all direct shipments to consumers, they may still do so. But very few will do this.

Wineries have been proliferating all over the country (and making some very good wines with lots of local character, or terroir, as the French call it). But getting distribution is another matter entirely. Liquor distribution has been consolidating, and getting a distributor to take on your wine can be difficult—to—impossible for new guys on the block.

For a little winery like Sunset Cellars, in which I am a partner, this ruling is a great blessing. Now, people who read about or hear about our wines can order directly from us. Before, only people in certain states had this right.

But, of course, shipping a heavy and fragile product like wine is not cheap. There is a premium to be paid. But the benefit in the ability to access the products of small producers all over the country is well worth it. Expect a proliferation of wine—buying websites.

Thomas Lifson   5 16 05


Stephen Bainbridge is not nearly as optimistic as I am about states banning all direct shipment of wine to consumers. Moreover, he has an interesting analysis of which justices voted which way. I defer to his considerable expertise.