In Vino Veritas - Part I
Wine is alleged to bring out the truth. So just what is the truth about shipping wine into Massachusetts? In May 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court issued the Granholm decision which was supposed to make it clear to states that they cannot discriminate against out of state wine shippers. I cannot even pretend to have read the entire decision. I scanned it pretty quickly, but the way the court ends the decision sums up the issue quite nicely.
"States have broad power to regulate liquor under §2 of the Twenty-first Amendment. This power, however, does not allow States to ban, or severely limit, the direct shipment of out-of-state wine while simultaneously authorizing direct shipment by in-state producers. If a State chooses to allow direct shipment of wine, it must do so on evenhanded terms."
I had been following this case since I heard about it. A few years ago, I was in California for a conference, which included dinner in Napa at Robert Mondavi Vineyards. It was wonderful and of course I wanted to ship some wine home just like everyone else seemed to be doing. That was when I found out that I was not allowed to ship wine into Massachusetts. I was really stunned. I figured it was some weird fluke thing and they had their information wrong.
A few days later, I visited family in Sonoma and went to another Vineyard. Same thing. I figured maybe it really was the law. So when I heard about the case, I was really interested. When I heard the decision, I was ecstatic. Then I heard that each state had to amend their own laws in accordance with the decision. Then I was just confused. I heard that several bills wound their way through the legislature and one of them had been signed into law. I wasn't really paying too much attention, but figured I should be able to order any wine I wanted.
Several years ago, I had given my father a wine-of-the-month club membership and that had seemed to work. Looking back, maybe they should not have sent it to him. I still don't understand it. Anyway, I recently discovered a very nice wine blog, called Virginia Vine Spot. I read about a Raspberry Merlot that sounded quite good. I wanted to order it for my parents 44th wedding anniversary. I emailed the vineyard owner and was told that he did not think it was legal to ship into Massachusetts. Again, I thought this had all been cleared up. I was curious, so I went to the Robert Mondavi website to see their shipping rules. The same thing! When will this madness end??!!
Now, I am on a mission to find out the truth. I'm waiting for some return phone calls and looking up some statutes. But alas, I have to go to work and earn some money, so I can actually afford to buy some wine. This post will have to be in two parts. Wish me luck!