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U.S. Wine Shipping Restrictions Struck Down (Again)

Wine shipping restrictions contained in Massachusetts state law have been struck down by a U.S. court as being discriminatory and unconstitutional in the case of Family Winemakers of California v. Jenkins. The restrictions at issue were complex but effectively prevented 95% of wineries from shipping direct to consumers in Massachusetts. The restrictions prevented wineries from shipping if they produced more than a set annual case volume or if they had wholesaler representation in Massachusetts. The court applied the reasoning in the earlier U.S. Supreme Court decision in Granholm v. Heald. Similar challenges are pending in other U.S. states that have enacted shipping restrictions.

The U.S. courts\’ reasoning is interesting because similar arguments could be used in Canada, particularly against the imposition of liquor board markups as between shipments of wine between wine producing provinces such as Ontario and B.C. The basis of the legal arguments in Canada would be slightly different due to the fact that the U.S. and Canadian constitutions are different but the nature of the discrimination is similar.

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