Have you recently visited an out-of-state winery and wanted a case sent home, only to be told it’s illegal? Confused by wine shipping laws? You’re not alone.
First let me say that I support the right of wine retailers, wholesalers and distributors to exist and make a living. The idea that we could or should just toss aside the three-tier system and buy all our wine, as the Brits might say, via “the post” is neither practical nor fair for all concerned.
Having said that, wineries simply ought to be able to ship directly to consumers, too, with few or no restrictions and with as little administrative burden as possible. For small wineries that cannot command the attention and shelf space of major brands, and that simply cannot afford far-off sales people or promotion, this can make the difference between modest success and, well, insolvency. That’s hardly fair and not smart either. And I think you’d be hard-pressed to make a case that this poses a threat to the distributors and retailers, to be honest. Producers of small lot, truly “hand-crafted” wines add a lot to our enjoyment and for most of them, direct-to-consumer is about they only way they can prevail.
Free the Grapes, a consumer advocacy group that supports unfettered wine shipping among and within all 50 states, has an interactive map that shows what’s what where you live. If you’re interested in buying wine directly from producers and retailers at a distance, take a look and see where things stand.