February 5th, 2007
There’s an excellent article on law.com titled “New Vintage of Wine Litigation is Fermenting”. The article summarizes the “next wave” of wine lawsuits that will continue to shake up the landscape of direct shipping.
New suits and amended complaints filed in the past year are attacking requirements that consumers must purchase wine in person, with the first court decisions recently issued in Maine and Kentucky. Wineries also are challenging legal shipping limits that are based on production volume.
In both types of cases, out-of-state wineries accuse the states of discriminating against them.
It’s interesting that almost two years after the Granholm decision there are over 30 lawsuits in over 20 states, and almost all of them are trying to clarify what the ruling actually meant. Richard van Duzer predicts,
Ultimately, this will be back before the Supreme Court, which will have to be more explicit about what it said and what it hasn’t said.
Ken Starr also contributes a quote to describe the de facto discrimination,
It appears that the wholesalers are simply seeking legislatively to do indirectly what the Supreme Court said in Granholm they can’t do directly.
Below is a summary of the litigation discussed.
Maine: In Cherry Hill Vineyard v. John E. Baldacci, No. 1:05-cv-00153 (D. Maine), the judge upheld the in-person requirement in Maine’s law , claiming the face-to-face restriction applies equally to in-state and out-of-state wineries.
Kentucky: In Cherry Hill Vineyards v. Hudgins, No. 3:05-cv-00289 (W.D. Ky.), on December 26th, 2006, the judge struck down the in-person requirement, but did not strike down the 50,000 gallon capacity cap restriction.
Indiana: In Baude v. Heath, No. 1:05-cv-00735 (S.D. Ind.), IN residents are suing over the requirement that the initial purchase of wine be made in person.
Massachusetts: In Family Winemakers of California v. Jenkins, No. 1:06-cv-11682 (D. Mass.), the Family Winemakers of California is suing over the 30,000 gallon capacity cap, which is conveniently just over the production of the largest producer in MA.
Arizona: In Black Star Farms v. Morrison, No. 2:05-cv-2620 (D. Ariz.), five AZ consumers are suing over the 20,000 gallon capacity cap.