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01.2009

Massachusetts Beverage Business

archivedAtPressTime

JUDGE RULES on OUT-OF-STATE DEBATE

A MASSACHUSETTS JUDGE has overturned legislation that put a production cap on wineries that were allowed to ship directly to consumers.  The ruling will permit wineries of all sizes to ship directly to residents of legal drinking age in Massachusetts. Judge Rya Zobel’s decision in Family Winemakers of California v. Jenkins enjoined the state from enforcing its law that prohibits many out-of-state wineries from shipping to consumers in the state.  Massachusetts’ current direct shipping policy allows wineries producing less than 3OOOO gallons to ship with a state-issued, direct shipping permit.  Wineries producing more than 3O,OOO gallons, but without a wholesaler in Massachusetts, can also get a direct shippers permit. Wineries producing more than 3O,OOO gallons that have a Massachusetts wholesaler are prohibited from direct shipping to consumers.  All Massachusetts’s wineries fall under the 3O,OOO limit.  Judge Zobel wrote that Massachusetts General Laws chapter 138, section 19F is discriminatory because “it prevents the direct shipment of 98% of out-of-state wine to consumers but permits all wineries in Massachusetts to sell directly to consumers, retailers and wholesalers . . . This clearly confers disproportionate benefits on both Massachusetts wineries and wholesalers.”  No word as of press time if the state will appeal.

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