Wine Tourism After The Direct Shipment Revolution: Implications And A Proposed Methodological Framework

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Martin A. Goldberg
James Murdy



The United States Supreme Court recently considered challenges to two state laws regarding direct shipment of wine and spirits from out-of-state. Michigan law banned these direct shipments completely, requiring sales from out-of-state to be made through a Michigan wholesaler, even though it permitted direct shipments from within the state. New York law similarly banned direct shipments, although it created a narrow exception for out-of-state wine producers who maintained a place of business within New York. In Granholm v. Heald, the United States Supreme Court considered the constitutionality of these laws in light of the constitutional prohibition against state laws that unreasonably burden interstate commerce. The Court held that these laws did in fact impermissibly discriminate against interstate commerce, and were unconstitutional. It held that a state may permit direct shipments or prohibit them, but it could not create a discriminatory system where in-state direct shipment were permitted but out-of-state shipments were prohibited or burdened with additional costs. This decision left it to the individual state governments to fashion whatever direct shipment laws they wished, as long as the laws did not treat shipments from out of state differently from shipments within the state. As the individual states respond to this mandate, we can see how these new laws will impact wine tourism, actual and Internet travel for the purpose of experiencing and purchasing regional wines.


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