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Can't Mail Wine in the US?
November 26, 2002 2:12 PM   Subscribe

Ever Try Getting Wine Shipped in the U.S.? Looks like Montana had set up a "wine connoisseur" rule that allowed for some shipping into the state if you filled out some paperwork, blah blah blah. PAIN! As someone who enjoys a good wine and wanted to order a bunch of it earlier in '02 when I was in Sonoma, CA and have it shipped home, only to be crushed when I couldn't have it done, I'm looking for a way to get this to work. Anyone else come across these various laws? Anyone else live in a state where they CAN get wine shipped in to them? 13 states allow reciprocal shipping from other partner states, and 14 others have some strict rules about it. Will opening these rules up allow minors an easy way to get alcohol? Some great links at the bottom of the article, too.
posted by djspicerack (30 comments total)

 
I've had good luck with having Southern Hemisphere Wines shipped to PA. They seem to do all the heavy lifting legality-wise.
posted by abischof at 2:26 PM on November 26, 2002


If anyone is interested to see how wine shipping laws differ across the US, this page has a brief overview of wine shipping laws by state.
posted by rainfallsix at 2:28 PM on November 26, 2002


You may want to take a look at Wine.com's shipping page. If a state listed in the table has a footnote beside the name, then there is no sale of wine to that state (accessories only).

This rule reminds me of the rules of some states requiring the sale of an automobile by a local dealer --- essentially preventing the 'official' sale of autos from other states (this was a serious thorn in the sides of companies which sought to sell autos on the Web, such companies could not sell autos to users located in many states).

Legally, such regulations may bring dormant commerce clause actions [google].
posted by quam at 2:28 PM on November 26, 2002


Check out the Free The Grapes website. It's a "national grassroots coalition of wine lovers and wineries" whose goal is to "allow wine consumers to purchase the wines they want, in the manner of their choosing".

Lots of good info there.
posted by bemmett at 2:37 PM on November 26, 2002


Commerce Clause does not play a role in this. In repealing prohibition by passing the 21 amendment, Congress gave the states total power to regulate the transportation of booze. That power has survived commerce clause challenges, dormant and otherwise.
posted by stvc15 at 2:38 PM on November 26, 2002


Count me as a another Montanan goofy enough to think I could have wine shipped here. I discovered how stupidly restrictive this state could be last year. Having sworn I would never visit California (that was my get-in-to-Heaven-Free card) I had occasion to go to Sacramento for software training. The co-worker I went with has a sister that lives in the region, and she took us on a tour of Napa valley. I tasted some astoundingly good wines, and actually wanted to purchase some from the V. Sattui winery. They only market direct to the public, and there is NO possibility that I could pick up any of their product from a liquor store. But when I mentioned having some awfully nice Merlot shipped to Montana, the person I was speaking to laughed at me, and called Montana a barbaric wine-hating province of Canada.

That's when I learned how many hoops have to be jumped through to get a bottle of good wine. Maybe he was right ...

(it might be easier and cheaper for me to get a liquor license than to become a "wine connoisseur" here. Guess I'll just stick to beer.)
posted by Wulfgar! at 2:45 PM on November 26, 2002


Good and interesting link- and the essence of what Mefi embodies, discussion and information sharing that benefits a community of folks. Kudos.
posted by CoolHandPuke at 3:12 PM on November 26, 2002


Commerce Clause does not play a role in this. In repealing prohibition by passing the 21 amendment, Congress gave the states total power to regulate the transportation of booze. That power has survived commerce clause challenges, dormant and otherwise.

Actually, that's not entirely true. In Texas, there's at least one district court which has ruled that if the wine laws are restrictive enough, they do violate the "dormant" Commerce clause. Now, the legitimacy of the "dormant" commerce clause, that's another question...
posted by monju_bosatsu at 3:46 PM on November 26, 2002


Well, there's a serious time issue with this idea, but here goes. Why not fly a cheap airline like Southwest? Seems like you're allowed (in general) 2 checked bags and 2 carry-on; one could get a lot of wine in one shot that way. Just fly into Sacramento or Oakland (Sac being the far better choice), get a $20 rental car, spend the day dorking about the wineries in Napa/Sonoma, and bring home several cases? Granted, you waste some massive time, but if the plane ticket is cheap enough you probably wouldn't be in for a whole lot more than just plain UPS/FedEx. And you get a nice little daytrip out to CA in the process. And wine.
posted by ehintz at 3:57 PM on November 26, 2002


As a European, I'm a bit bemused by this. I thought the whole point of America was that you didn't have to put up with this sort of crap from your government.
I'm told things are worse in Canada though.
posted by BinkyF at 4:17 PM on November 26, 2002


Prohibition still sucks even nowadays. Unbelievable. In the EU anybody can have up to 90 litres of wine when crossing borders and nobody can stop you because Brussels says so (thank you very much Eurocrats). Imagine that: daddy, mummy, the two kids and ... 480 bottles of wine. Not such an uncommon practice across the channel. Cheerio.
posted by ugly_n_sticky at 4:44 PM on November 26, 2002


Thanks, Coolhand - trying to get the hang of what this group needs. I'm glad this worked out as a decent topic of discussion for MeFites everywhere.
posted by djspicerack at 4:46 PM on November 26, 2002


If I were an underage drinker, there's nothing I'd want more than a nice bottle of pinot noir, preferably a '97 from Oregon.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 5:00 PM on November 26, 2002


All you have to do is make a friend in California. I've shipped wines a few times from SF to friends cross-country.
posted by troybob at 5:20 PM on November 26, 2002


Here in PA things have always been quite bad. Alcohol only available in state-run liquor stores -- even beer. However, it looks like things are changing. And as abischof said above, getting wine shipped here is diffifcult, but not impossible. I believe you just have to pick it up at the local liquor store, and it has to be wine that you couldn't normally get here.
posted by drinkcoffee at 5:33 PM on November 26, 2002


troybob: All you have to do is make a friend in California. I've shipped wines a few times from SF to friends cross-country.

So are you volunteering to be that friend for your MeFi pals, troybob?
posted by Vidiot at 6:14 PM on November 26, 2002


A federal judge has ruled the New York law banning shipments of wine from out of state are unconstitutional.

Yay!
posted by Wet Spot at 6:55 PM on November 26, 2002


Georgia is one of the fascist states that make it almost impossible to ship wine. A lot of smaller wineries will ship to states where it isn't legal (their risk is fairly low if only a case or two enters the state every month in plain brown boxes), but you generally have to build a relationship with them by visiting in person to make it happen.

Along those lines, Georgia and the surrounding states have fairly low limits on the percentage of alcohol allowed in beer. Thus, it is easier to buy moonshine in the metro Atlanta area than an imported Belgian beer with a high alcohol content.
posted by jonnyp at 7:56 PM on November 26, 2002


So are you volunteering to be that friend for your MeFi pals, troybob?

Hey, I'm an idea man!

...but I wonder...why not just buy a few cases of wine and take them directly to a mailing house and ship them to yourself? I've really never had problems shipping wine for others, as much as eight cases at a time. If you need a return address...well, maybe that's what friends are for...

...keep smilin'...keep shinin'...knowin' you can always count on me...for sure...
posted by troybob at 8:04 PM on November 26, 2002


So are you volunteering to be that friend for your MeFi pals, troybob?

I'm thinking a really delightful '98 Merlot. A bit airy, but fragrant and distinctive when consumed with hard sharp cheese...

why not just buy a few cases of wine and take them directly to a mailing house and ship them to yourself?

A) it makes you subject to interstate contraband laws.

B) It entails the same charge in Montana as shipping hazardous waste by US mail, and further tax penalties. Yeah, its pretty f***ed up here.
posted by Wulfgar! at 10:09 PM on November 26, 2002


As an aside, V. Sattui has consistently made excellent wines for years. I checked the Wine Spectator database and they've never gotten a rating below 83, with most of their ratings being around 86-89. It's too bad you couldn't work things out with them, Wulfgar!...

I can't believe that these dusty old laws are still being enforced! And I can't imagine any politicians putting changing these laws high on their list of campaign promises.
posted by sir walsingham at 10:53 PM on November 26, 2002


Why not just order a wine kit and make your own? It's cheaper and the product can be very, very good. Let the little yeasts do the dirty work in the privacy of your own home....this would be legal, right?
posted by troutfishing at 11:33 PM on November 26, 2002


The story seems to have been taken down. The link now goes to this message:

Oops! The news story that you are looking for is no longer available. For the latest up-to-the-minute AP news reports - including local, national, international, sports news and more - bookmark the NewsFlash Home Page.
posted by dejah420 at 11:49 PM on November 26, 2002


"He wants a crate of the merlot shipped to him at home in Montana."

"Montana? Tell 'im he's dreaming."
posted by Pyth at 1:38 AM on November 27, 2002


Maryland is also one of those states. Sheesh. Coming from California, it's weird not to be able to buy wine in a grocery store. In Montgomery County, a bastion of liberal thoughts, liquor sales are HIGHLY regulated.

Retail outlets can only sell wine and beer in one of their stores. So, if we want wine from Trader Joe's, we have to go to Virginia (there are so many hoops a store must jump through to offer wine in one of its outlets, TJs decided it wasn't worth it to sell in even one of its MD stores).

Prohibition still sucks even nowadays.

This has nothing to do with prohibition. This has everything to do with protectionism.

We buy most of our wine in DC, which is not as regulated and has much lower prices.
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 5:42 AM on November 27, 2002


I had a boyfriend in Texas who flew out to California and we went wine-tasting in Napa Valley together. He wanted to ship some to Texas but it was a "no go". I ended up buying the bottles and shipping it to him via personal shipment. Guess there are strict guidelines for those Texans. Bummer.
posted by Sonserae at 8:32 AM on November 27, 2002


Lord knows Montana needs to protect its local wineries from the threat of imported Californian wines... !?!

Can you import wine from BC? A lotta stuff here that's as good or better than California (cleaned up with 44 International Wine & Spirit competition). Hell, I'd ship it to ya, provided it doesn't end up getting me banned from the USA as some sort of wino terrorist...
posted by five fresh fish at 9:35 AM on November 27, 2002


here's a new link

link...
posted by djspicerack at 12:25 PM on November 27, 2002


Y'know, it's freakin bizarre that you've got free trade with Canada and Mexico, but not between states...
posted by five fresh fish at 12:42 PM on November 27, 2002


Another former-Californian here, now living in North Carolina which has "package stores" or "ABCs". You can buy beer and wine in the grocery store, but for anything stronger, you have to go to the ABC. Which causes confusion when I mention something about running down to "the liquor store" to get a paper. In Cali every small gas station, 7-11 is a "liquor store" even when they don't sell liquor.

While I note that I can't get alcohol shipped to me:

Individual may bring into state up to 4 liters of dessert wine and brandy or up to 20 liters of table wine provided caps or seals not broken

Nothing about hard liquor. In my frequent flights home, I usually bring back 10 or 12 bottles of something, just because it is cheaper.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 9:24 PM on November 27, 2002


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