Matthew Mann
November 26, 2008 | Compliance, Direct-To-Trade | Matthew Mann

I’m Thankful For…Wine Shipping Advocates

Thanksgiving is the time for food, family, friends and your favorite glass of wine. As a lawyer with a keen interest in the great successes in wine shipping law accomplished this year I thought a brief list of “Thank You’s” to the people, advocates and organizations whose tireless and focused efforts have brought about these developments is well-deserved. Their efforts are opening new markets for wine and, in the greater scheme of things, expanding and defining the application of dormant Commerce Clause principles necessary to maintaining fair trade policies between the states.

I’m thankful for-

  • Family Winemakers of California president Paul Kronenberg and the crack legal staff of Tracy Genesen of Kirkland & Ellis. Their well-planned, wisely litigated case poked holes in the Commonweath’s case as Massachusetts’ defended discriminatory and protectionist laws that effectively excluded out-of-state wineries from shipping to Massachusetts consumers to the benefit of in-state wholesalers and wineries.
  • The lobbying efforts of the Wine Institute, Free the Grapes, Family Winemakers, and the Coalition for Free Trade, among others, to protect the interests of small wineries against the well-funded efforts to limit access to wine taking place in the legislatures as laws are shaped in response to Granholm and its progeny.
  • The insight of district court judges in Texas, Indiana, Michigan and Massachusetts who saw the dubious assertions by state’s arguing that discriminatory regulations were necessary to maintain an orderly market, collect tax revenue and prevent online wine purchases by minors. Their legal analysis was responsible for recognizing the discriminatory effect of otherwise facially neutral laws and reinforcing the requirement of that alternatives to discriminatory laws be enacted where alternatives exist. These judge’s upheld established constitutional principles requiring states allow access to their markets in a non-discriminatory manner.
  • Wineries that play by the rules of direct wine shipping. They understand that by following the rules they are establishing a foundation of compliance that will be useful in convincing currently prohibited states to open their markets to direct wine shipments without fear of the questionable arguments proffered by opponents that it will lead to an unregulated marketplace.
  • Consumers demanding access to all of the wine products legally made in the United States, regardless of in which state they were produced. Changes to discriminatory laws don’t happen in a vacuum. Consumers who have contacted state legislators and challenged laws denying their right to market access have benefitted all wine lovers and consumers in general who simply want to choose, rather than having the choice made for them by state-backed wholesale monopolies.

I’m thankful for being able to raise a glass of the wine of my choice at Thanksgiving with my family and friends and knowing there are passionate people fighting to make sure I have that choice. Happy Thanksgiving!


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