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U.S. Wholesalers Move to Preserve 3 Tier System

In U.S. news, it appears that wine and spirits wholesalers are attempting to mitigate the impact of recent court decisions permitting direct shipping of wine to consumers by strengthening the power of the states to regulate alcohol (including wine). A bill has been introduced in the U.S. Congress which is designed to make it difficult to challenge the power of the states in respect of their use of legal barriers which support the three tier distribution system. The wine and spirits wholesalers have historically supported the three tier distribution system which has until recently required that all alcohol going into a state be distributed by a wholesaler for that state. Recent court decisions (the most prominent of which is Granholm v. Heald) have permitted wineries to direct ship to consumers in other states without going through the three tier system. The bill changes the evidentiary standards for such challenges, making it more difficult for them to succeed. Wine Spectator has reported on this and is properly concerned that this could be an end to direct shipping.

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