Untangling the complex world of wine direct shipping and compliance
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Additional information regarding Pennsylvania’s Limited Winery Permit

December 20th, 2006
By R. Corbin Houchins, Beverage Industry Counsel

Important caveat on Pennsylvania in particular and “Notes on Wine Distribution” in General. The recent development posted on 12/14 regarding direct shipment to Pennsylvania residents in that the state, is that the Liquor Control Board, which has known since November 2005 that it lost the Cutner case and therefore may not prohibit direct shipment from outside the state, as least so long as Pennsylvania wineries are free of the requirement to ship through state stores, has stated that direct shipment from out-of-state is permissible for holders of the “limited winery permit.” That statement, which is expressly “non-binding”, does not include procedural guidance on obtaining the license, although the Cutner injunction would prevent imposition of procedures or delays rendering it practically unavailable.

The Wine Institute continues to advise wineries not to ship directly to Pennsylvania consumers, and neither of the major carriers has added the state to its interstate shipment list. The Notes for Pennsylvania point out both that there are unanswered procedural questions and that carriers are making only in-state deliveries. Reportedly, trade associations have been trying for some time to obtain information from Pennsylvania on how to make a lawful shipment under Cutner. The absence of guidance is hardly surprising, as the state has no obligation to provide it to anyone other than its own officials, the legal personnel who affirm that the license is required are not responsible for nuts-and-bolts administrative matters, and the people who are doubtless hope the legislature will make the issue go away in the next session. All releases of “Notes on Wine Distribution” in their opening paragraph refer the reader to other sources for guidance on what is presently practicable, including the Wine Institute site

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