Wineries Push to End Mass. Ban on Consumer Shipments

Out-of-state wineries are hoping this finally will be the year that they can make direct shipments to local Massachusetts consumers, as reported by the Boston Herald.

A trade group for California vintners, who’ve been pushing for the state for nearly 20 years, is supporting proposed legislation again this year. The bill was the subject of a public hearing last week before the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Licensure.

State law enacted in 2006 limits direct-to-consumer shipments to wineries that produce less than 30,000 gallons per year and haven’t used a wholesaler for distribution in the last six months. It effectively prevents shipments of 98 percent of wine produced out of state, while allowing direct deliveries by all Bay State wineries.

But in January 2010, the First U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling that the law violates the commerce clause of the Constitution.

A similar bill died last year after being referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means. The wine industry put the blame on opposition from wholesalers.

The new bill filed by Rep. David Torrisi (D-North Anover) would require wineries to buy a state-issued license and mark boxes as requiring an adult’s signature at delivery. It also limits the quantity of wine shipped to individuals to 24 cases per year.

Opposition is again expected from wholesalers.

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