High Court Rules Interstate Wine Shipment Ban Unconstitutional

By: Whitney Holmes
By: Whitney Holmes

Before a recent Supreme Court ruling, if you wanted to send a bottle of Virginia wine to two dozen other states, or suggest your friend order a bottle, you, your friend, and the winery could all be breaking the law.

For wineries, the punishments could put them out of business.

"It's a felony for us to ship to Georgia. It's a felony for us to ship to Florida," said Chad Zakaib from Jefferson Vineyards. "It's a felony and if we are caught doing it we could lose our license to produce wine."

But now wine can flow freely across state borders after the Supreme Court ruled that states cannot pass laws that ban outside wineries from shipping directly to customers.

This changes the 21st amendment responsible for ending prohibition and giving states the ability to regulate their own alcohol sales.

"The Supreme Court held that those laws previously held discriminate in interstate commerce which means that wine lovers across the country can enjoy Virginia wine," said Timothy Hulbert, CEO of the Charlottesville Chamber of Commerce.

The ruling allows Virginia wineries to ship wines to any state, opening up a lucrative market.

"Over the course of time, we could see an increase in our shipping sales of 50 percent or more," said Zakaib. "This is because we see a tremendous number of people here at the winery who then go back home to states where they can't buy our wine."

Juanita Swedenburg, a winemaker in Middleburg, Virginia, is responsible for challenging the restrictive shipping laws.

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