Montesquieu Winery Updates on Direct to Consumer Shipping

April 15, 2011, by: Lisa Duff Khajavi

Montesquieu Winery supports Free the Grapes and Stop HR 1161

2011 has shaped up to be very eventful regarding direct to consumer shipping (DTC) legislation.  We want to be sure everyone is aware of the latest developments regarding this vital issue.  We at Montesquieu Winery believe that wine lovers should be able to buy from the wineries and wine retailers of their choice no matter which state they live in!

The following are updates mainly regarding the states and their DTC related bills that we outlined in our March 13th post.  We are happy to report some good news starting with Maryland!

Maryland

After years of wrangling, direct shipping bill (House Bill 1175) has passed both houses and is slated to be signed on May 10 by Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley!  Supporters of the bill are pushing for all the requirements such as permit applications and such be ready for the bill’s start date of July 1, 2011.

The local retailer lobby was successful in that retailers were excluded from this bill. What this means is consumers may order directly from wineries, but not from wine retailers. So there is more work to be done in Maryland, but the passage of 1175 is a huge accomplishment signaling big change in a very positive direction!

Congratulations to all the supporters in the state legislature, the Maryland Wineries Association, Marylanders for Better Beer & Wine Laws, Wine Merchants Association of Maryland, Maryland Farm Bureau, Wine Institute, and consumer support. Well done!

Florida

Senate Bill 854 and its companion House Bill 837 went up for vote Friday April 8 and Tuesday April 12 which if passed would revert Florida to the pre-2006 status of prohibited direct shipping.

We are on the edge of our seats to hear the results, and will report as soon as we hear any news.

If you live in Florida, voice your support of direct shipping and follow the action items listed here.

Massachusetts

2011 is looking hopeful for Massachusetts with some major momentum carrying over from 2010. House Bill 1029 was introduced in February and is similar to statutes in the majority of U.S. states which provide for legal, regulated winery direct shipping to consumers. It is based on the model direct shipping bill, was cited by the U.S. Supreme Court and supported by the Federal Trade Commission.

With HB 1029 wineries are required to purchase a state-issued shipping license, to mark boxes as requiring signature at delivery, and to limit the quantity of wine shipped to individuals.

The bill conforms to the 2010 ruling Family Winemakers of California v. Jenkins, which was upheld by the 1st Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in January 2010. The lawsuit successfully challenged a 2006 Massachusetts law banning winery-to-consumer shipments from wineries and wine companies producing more than 30,000 gallons per year, and who retain a wholesaler. The 30,000 gallon capacity cap was ruled to be discriminatory and the legislature was tasked with developing a remedy.

HB 1029 would be a viable solution. It removes the capacity cap and attempts to resolve a licensing issue with the common carriers that has prevented wine from being shipped directly to consumers under the current statute. This bill should go to vote soon, and we will be keeping our eye on this!

Massachusetts residents can get involved here.

New Jersey

Pro-shipping bill AB 1702, the companion bill to SB 766 which passed March of 2010 is expected to be addressed in mid-to late summer, after legislators work on the state budget.

Help keep the momentum in New Jersey! Residents can help here.

New Mexico

Governor Martinez signed SB445 yesterday which will take effect July 1, 2011 and replaces the reciprocal statute with permit bill. Wine lovers in New Mexico will be able to purchase from any licensed winery, in any state, that purchases a $50 permit. Retailer shipping is still allowed under SB445.

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania has introduced 3 pro-shipping bills this year, SB 790, SB 886 and HB 110. They are in the preliminary stages, with wine industry representatives coordinating with sponsors to improve the bills with respect to retailers, taxes, and what wines can be shipped. This may be voted on as early as May!

Voice your support for Pennsylvania here!

Congressional

For those of you who haven’t heard, the wholesaler-backed HR 5034 from last year reappeared as HR 1161.  Read more details on our previous blog post.

We will keep you informed with relevant updates. To read more regarding direct shipping concerns learn more here.

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