Washngton State Changing its Wine Shipping Laws

The state of Washington, the largest producer of wine in the States after California and a traditional advocate of direct shipping of wine to consumers, is changing it’s laws on wine shipping.

The draft legislation formulated by the Washington Liquor Control Commission essentially updates the State’s law to take into account the Supreme Court Ruling on the issue in may as well as the changes that other states have made to their shipping laws.

Washington had been a "reciprocal state." Meaning, they would allow its wineries to ship to consumers in states that allowed Washington wineries to ship to their state’s consumers. Yet, reciprocity, as a governing concept is pretty much dead. In fact, it appears based on the Supreme Court ruling that reciprocity itself was a concept that was discriminatory and therefore presumed to be unconstitutional.

The new proposed regulations allows Washington wineries as well as out-of-state wineries to ship direct to Washington consumers. Wineries may ship up to 24 cases per year to a single Washington resident. Wineries will need to obtain a permit and submit to certain reporting procedures.

The draft legislation will be worked over by the Washington legislature when it comes back in session. It’s possible the there will be changes.

The one issue that concerns me is that of retailers. At this point retailers are not allowed to ship to Washington consumers. Why? I’m unaware of any logistical considerations that would make it difficult. Nor am I aware of any regulatory necessities that make reporting of wine shipped by retailers difficult to oversee.

In fact, I’ve never understood why retailers were not the driving force behind the move to legalize direct shipping. They have so much to gain by having this privilege.

Nevertheless, Washington is near the right track with their new legislation. Let’s hop they jump on the track eventually with a law allowing retailers to ship directly to consumers.

Posted In: Shipping Wine


2 Responses

  1. David - December 1, 2005

    Here’s another twist to the story in Washington:
    I’m guessing some of you out there have read this story. I don’t see how a 10% decrease in price leads to a “dramatic increase in alcohol consumption in Washington.”
    Tom, I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on this. I’m not sure I see it from all angles correctly.

  2. maggie - December 2, 2005

    You have to be careful with Washington state wine press/marketing. It’s a bit like asking someone’s mother to talk objectively about their children or talking to a Packers’ fan. Lots of glowing, unconditional support up here, which I’m sure you would agree ain’t a good thing.
    Tom, as far as I know…retailers can ship to WA. If not, crap! I do it all the time because our liquor selection is the worst I’ve ever seen. (state run, natch.)

Leave a Reply