Supreme Court To Hear Critical Wine Regulation Case This Week

This coming Wednesday, the Supreme Court is hearing arguments for the second case on wine sales and distribution to ever be judged on the Federal level. The bulk of recent court cases have been resolved in numerous local courts, from Michigan to Texas.

The critical case of Tennessee v Blair is due to be heard on January 16. The last case that reached the Federal level, in 2005, was Granholm v Heald, which had a major impact on how wine is sold in the United States.

The Granholm case allowed wineries to ship into the bulk of other U.S. states where they were not located, but ended up—through a loophole—barring retailers from doing the same thing several years later. The bulk of wine stores continued to ship across state lines until the wine wholesale tier cracked down on UPS and Fedex and they stopped shipping into approximately 36 states.

The Upcoming Case

The upcoming case was brought onto the docket by mega-chain Total Wine & More when the chain applied to open a location in Tennessee. That state currently has a residency requirement that mandates that retailers must reside in the state prior to opening a store.

Total pursued a lawsuit and the outcome is likely to affect many other states way beyond Tennessee. Likely to be decided, once the court’s ruling is announced this spring, is if current wine distribution conditions are fair and if retailers should have the same rights to ship into states that wineries do.

Read more of this Forbes article by Liza B. Zimmerman  by clicking here.