June 4th, 2006
On Thursday, Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano signed into law SB 1276, opening Arizona for limited direct shipping and self distribution. As we mentioned below, this will establish a capacity cap for offsite sales of 20,000 gallons (roughly 8,400 cases). Onsite sales will continue to be allowed with a per customer volume limit of 2 cases per year. The new law will be effective 90 days after the end of the legislative session.
Reactions are mixed on this result. Arizona wineries are pleased with the decision as are wholesalers, but medium and large sized wineries outside of Arizona as well as the Wine Institute and Free the Grapes! are not happy with the outcome. Many of our readers point out that we should view this as a glass half full instead of a half empty. Arizona was previously completely prohibited for offsite sales, so it is a small step in the right direction even though a large number of wineries are excluded.
Tom Wark at Fermentation notes that the Wine & Spirits Wholesaler Association has stepped up their presence and will continue to use whatever means they have to limit and prohibit direct shipping and self distribution. The Arizona battle seems far from over as the the capacity cap will almost certainly be challenged in the courts.