EXTRA, EXTRA - US Supreme Court Frees Family Wineries

Wine-Shipping Limits Overturned by U.S. High Court

Will today's Supreme Court ruling on direct shipping of wine open Oklahoma's market to direct wine shipping?

The U.S. Supreme Court overturned laws barring out-of-state winemakers from shipping directly to customers in Michigan and New York, potentially boosting Internet and mail-order sales in the $23 billion wine industry.

The justices today said the traditional state authority over alcohol sales must yield to the constitutional requirements that states not discriminate against out-of-state businesses.

'If a state chooses to allow direct shipment of wine, it must do so on evenhanded terms,' Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the 5-4 majority in Washington.

Liquor wholesalers are scared that if the court has ruled that consumers can buy wine directly from out-of-state producers, maybe liquor retailers can as well. Leaving them as a middleman with no competitive advantage.

The ruling calls into question similar limits on out-of-state wine in 22 other states. It's a victory for small wineries seeking to expand their businesses and a defeat for the wholesale distributors that are bypassed when wineries ship straight to consumers. -- May 16 (Bloomberg)

Justice Kennedy, who was joined by Justices Antonin Scalia, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer, said New York and Michigan 'provide little evidence for their claim that purchasing wine over the Internet by minors is a problem.'

BE WARNED: Although the court overwhelmingly found the state wine shipping bans, such as we have here in Oklahoma, to be discriminatory and anticompetitive, their decision leaves open the possibility that state legislatures can ban both in-state and out-of-state wine shipments.

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