Direct-to-Consumer Wine Shipments

direct to consumer wine shipmentsThe Internet in general (and Amazon.com more specifically) has changed the way we shop: order online and get the shipment to your door. It’s not that easy with direct-to-consumer wine shipments, but Massachusetts may become the next state to allow it.

In Massachusetts, the current law restricts larger out-of-state wineries (producing in excess of 30,000 gallons annually) that have wholesale representation in the state from selling and shipping directly to consumers. However, House Bill No. 258 (presented by Michael Moran as “An Act regulating the direct shipment of wine”) may change that.

Massachusetts Wine Shipping Legislation Highlights

John Connell, P.C. shares some of the highlights in his blog “Could Massachusetts Be the Next State to Allow Direct-to-Consumer Shipping?”:

  • Interested wineries must apply to Massachusetts’ Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission for a direct shipper’s license
  • Wineries that ship directly must use only common carriers with face-to-face deliveries with verification of legal age
  • Deliveries must include obvious messaging that indicates the shipment contains alcohol and requires the signature of a person 21 years old or older
  • Wineries must adhere to current laws governing transportation of alcohol
  • Direct shipping is limited to no more than four cases of wine deliveries to any consumer in a calendar year
  • Wineries must consent to jurisdiction and venue in MA for any legal issues regarding its shipper’s license

According to CBS BostonMass. Lawmakers Supporting Direct-to-Consumer Wine Shipment Legislation,” it looks like lawmakers are backing the measure that has been added as an amendment to the state’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Former New England Patriots’ quarterback, Drew Bledsoe appeared before the legislature last year promoting passage of a similar bill. He operates a winery in Washington state, but without direct-to-consumer wine shipping, he cannot effectively sell his wine in MA.

Off-premises license holders and package stores as well as wholesalers and distributors are the ones that will be cut out of the equation should the measure pass. Of course, that’s assuming that every wine drinker will opt for direct shipments with their associated shipping costs rather than making a purchase at their local package store. In reality, there’s probably enough to go around for everyone, and direct-go-consumer wine shipments won’t be the end of wine sales in package stores.