Arizona Loosens Wine Shipment Rules

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Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano signed legislation June 1 that lets residents get shipments from out-of-state wineries.

Small wineries in Arizona and other states may ship directly to consumers who order via the Internet, telephone, fax or mail. Arizona law had not allowed direct shipments unless the person was physically present at the winery when making the order.

Arizona consumers now can order from out-of-state wineries that produce fewer than 20,000 gallons a year, provided those wineries get an Arizona domestic farm winery license and pay state taxes. Small wineries also may continue shipping to grocery stores, restaurants and other licensed retailers.

Any winery producing more than 20,000 gallons a year still must take such orders in person.

The move follows a 2005 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down laws in Michigan and New York that allowed only in-state wineries -- not out-of-state ones -- to ship directly to stores.

In other interstate-wine news, U.S. District Judge John H. McBryde in Fort Worth, TX, approved a preliminary injunction May 23 creating a level playing field for in-state and out-of-state wine retailers in Texas.

The Texas attorney general's office and Kirkland & Ellis LLP, on behalf of wine retailer and Texas consumer plaintiffs, agreed to a preliminary injunction that prohibits Texas from enforcing its ban on shipments from out-of-state wine retailers directly to Texas adult consumers.

Under this injunction, out-of-state wine retailers selling directly to Texas adult consumers must use a state-approved common carrier permitted to do business in Texas. The next step is for the common carriers, such as FedEx and UPS, to receive such permits and incorporate retailer-to-consumer shipping procedures into their systems.

Also, the Specialty Wine Retailers Association has been formed to encourage states to create a borderless national wine marketplace that benefits consumers and increases state tax revenue. While 33 states let licensed wineries ship directly to their consumers, only 12 states let retailers do the same.

SWRA members include wine merchants, wine auction houses, wine e-tailers, catalogers and wine clubs. Members operate in 30 states and include 1-800-Flowers.com (Ambrosiawine.com), Beverages & More, Bonhams & Butterfields, K&L Wine Merchants, My Wines Direct, Rare Wine Co., Signature Wines, Vinfolio, Winebid.com and Wine Country Gift Baskets.

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