March 19th, 2006
Governor Chris Gregoire signed into law a bill that will allow all out of state wineries to ship to directly to Washington consumers. Previously, Washington had reciprocity arrangements with 13 states. The new regulations will make it more difficult for those 13 states because they will be required to obtain a direct shipping permit and pay taxes, but will also allow for shipments from non-reciprocal states.
On a similar front, Washington continues to revisit their laws surrounding shipping wine directly to retailers. The Costco case gets back into full swing this month. Costco is challenging the constitutionality of the Washington laws that require out-of-state wineries to go through distributors instead of shipping directly to retailers. This is a very important challenge to the three-tier system of wine shipping that states around the country are watching closely. Costco alleges that the laws create an unfair monopoly for distributors and artificially inflate wine and liquor prices.