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Imbiblog is published for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice.

Category archives for “Granholm”

Selling Alcohol to California Consumers Online

September 4th, 2014

Traditionally a customer wanting a bottle of alcohol in California would go to their local package or grocery store to get it or, if they were lucky enough to be in wine country, directly to a winery. In recent years, with consumers actively experimenting and looking for more variety, and with the boom in online shopping generally, consumers have a lot more options to find that elusive boutique wine, craft beer or small batch spirit brand that they have heard about and have been looking for. All of this means that consumers are turning more and more to the internet to find the alcohol that they want to serve at home. A quick Google search of internet alcohol sales in California yields more than 10 million results.

SPIRITS: Only a California Type 21 off-sale general licensee can sell a bottle of distilled spirits direct to consumer (DTC). Although a distiller can host a customer at the distillery to taste the products that are made there, a distiller cannot sell a bottle of spirits to a customer to take home.

BEER: There is a bit more leeway for beer with brewers being able to offer tastings and sell beer to customers. The CA law was revised just this year to make it very clear that a brewer can only sell its own beer to customers, and not beer made by other brewers, unless it gets a retail license. As a matter of policy, the ABC will allow a beer manufacturer to also make an online sale of its beer to a consumer. An on-premises retailer like a restaurant or a bar can also sell beer to customers to take home, and by the same ABC policy can sell online.  Off-sale retailers like grocery stores can sell beer to consumers online.

WINE: As with other alcohol, wine can be sold DTC by off-sale retailers. An on-sale retailer can also sell wine online, under ABC policy allowing online sales by retailers. A winery can also sell wine DTC, both at the winery and online, including through wine clubs. The state also offers two opportunities for the online retail sale of wine without a traditional brick and mortar store. The first of these is with a 17/20 wholesale and retail combination, or a 9/17/20 import/wholesale/retail combination. In both cases, wine can be sold online to customers and indeed can only be sold by direct mail, telephone or the internet from a location which is not open to the public. The license combination is often located right at the warehouse, enabling the licensee to easily pick and pack and ship out customer orders. The 17/20 combination allows the holder to sell directly to retailers as well as consumers and, with the addition of the type 9, the licensee can bring in wine from out-of-state and get it all the way to a consumer without passing through any other licensee’s hands. The second option is more recent and consists of a type 85 license, which gives the licensee the ability to sell wine at retail without the added wholesale or import rights. The chief distinction between the 85 and the 17/20 combination is that the 17/20 licensees have a wholesale license so they are required to make sales to retailers in addition to consumers, whereas the type 85 licensee sells only to consumers.

OUT-OF-STATE SELLERS: If you are a seller of alcohol located out-of-state, only wine can be sold DTC to California consumers and only under certain circumstances. A licensed winery in another U.S. state can get a direct shipper’s permit to sell DTC. For a licensed retailer in another state, the laws are murkier. California has a “reciprocity” statute which only permits out-of-state retail sales from states which allow a California retailer to ship to that state’s consumers. Currently, only thirteen states and the District of Columbia allow such sales. However, the concept of “reciprocity” was criticized by the Supreme Court in its 2005 decision in Granholm v. Heald, 544 U.S. 460, with specific reference to this California law. The law itself has not been challenged and thus the limitation remains on the books.

If you are interested in learning more about direct shipping laws in California or elsewhere, contact one of the attorneys at Strike & Techel.

Imbiblog is published for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. Copyright © 2013 · All Rights Reserved ·

Dan Kramer Featured in The San Francisco Examiner!

February 3rd, 2014

Strike & Techel’s own Dan Kramer was featured in an article in Sunday’s San Francisco Examiner. Dan was interviewed for the article “Want to be in the booze business in SF? Better know the law” in which he discusses his experience in the alcoholic beverage industry, including the complications and expenses of obtaining a retail license in San Francisco, California promotional issues, as well as distribution and direct shipping. As Dan pointed out, alcoholic beverage legal issues can not only be complicated, but they are often not on people’s radar as they venture into the industry. If you’re just getting started in the industry or have any questions about retail licensing, distribution, direct shipping, or just about anything else in the industry, call Dan or one of the other attorneys at Strike & Techel.

Imbiblog is published for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. Copyright © 2014 · All Rights Reserved

Winery Direct Shipping Coming Soon to Montana

August 26th, 2013

Starting October 1, 2013, Montana will allow the direct shipment of wine to Montana residents by wineries that hold a Direct Shipment Endorsement. Holders of a Direct Shipment Endorsement may sell and directly ship up to 18 nine-liter cases of wine annually to an individual in Montana who is at least 21 years of age. Any in-state or out-of-state winery that is already registered with the Montana Department of Revenue must pay $50 and file associated paperwork to receive a Direct Shipment Endorsement, and wineries not already registered with the state will be able to simultaneously register with the state and apply for a Direct Shipper Endorsement. Applicants must submit a signed affidavit that they will contract only with common carriers that agree that wine will be delivered only to an individual in Montana who is at least 21 years old and who signs upon receipt of the wine. Records may be due every month and every quarter, and must be held for state inspection for up to three years. All taxes must be paid quarterly and tax records submitted monthly (by the 15th date of the following month) to the Department of Revenue. If a holder of a Direct Shipment Endorsement uses a bonded wine warehouse for fulfillment purposes, the endorsement holder must file a written notice that includes the name and address of the warehouse. The state also requires pre-approval of all wine labels to be shipped into the state. Stay tuned as Montana will likely issue regulations and step-by-step instructions in the coming months.

If you have any questions about shipping wine directly to Montana residents, or residents of any other state, contact one of the attorneys at Strike & Techel.

Imbiblog is published for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. Copyright © 2013 · All Rights Reserved ·

Out-of-State Wine Sales: Going Beyond Direct Shipping

February 6th, 2012

In 2005, when Granholm v. Heald was decided by the Supreme Court, the doors to direct shipping wine to consumers opened wider than ever before. But the principles behind Granholm may open more than just the direct shipping avenue. Recently, a California winery stepped down this expanded path by opening a tasting room in Pennsylvania. Several states allow licensed wineries to operate satellite tasting rooms within the state. In Pennsylvania, limited wineries may operate, separately or in conjunction with other limited wineries, up to five additional tasting and off-premises sales locations within the state. No production or bottling is required at those five separate facilities. 47 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 5-505.2(a)(3). Virginia has a similar provision allowing licensed farm wineries to sell wine for on- and off-premises consumption at up to five additional retail locations. Va. Code Ann. § 4.1-207(5).

In order to become a licensed limited winery in Pennsylvania a winery must be producing wine from agricultural products grown in Pennsylvania. While this requirement seems to preclude an out-of-state winery from opening a tasting room in Pennsylvania, the Granholm court addressed this issue when it examined New York’s former requirement that only farm wineries, which can only produce wine from agricultural products grown in New York, were allowed the most direct avenue to ship wine to New York consumers. Granholm v. Heald, 544 U.S. 460, 476 (2005). In its decision the Court stated, “States may not enact laws that burden out-of-state producers or shippers simply to give a competitive advantage to in-state business.” Id. at 472. Thus, predicating the ability to open a tasting facility where direct sales are allowed on the production of wine solely from in-state grown agricultural products violates the principles of Granholm. In 2010 this exact issue came to heard in New Jersey when a law that allowed in-state wineries to sell directly to consumers from up to six salesrooms apart from the winery premises, while prohibiting out-of-state wineries from similar direct sales activities, was found to violate the dormant Commerce Clause. Freeman v. Corzine, 629 F. 3d 146, 159 (2010). While opening up facilities in other states is a large investment of time and capital that likely would not suit many wineries, it may be a viable strategy for some. Given the rapid changes over the last few years in new paths to consumers, keeping an open mind about ways to grow sales is always a good idea.

Imbiblog is published for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. Copyright © 2012 · All Rights Reserved ·

TABC Steps Up Enforcement Against Direct to Consumer Wine Shipments by Retailers

June 7th, 2011

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) issued a press release on Friday, June 3rd advising that it has entered into agreements with FedEx and UPS to halt the shipment of wine by out of state retailers to Texas consumers.

The direct shipping situation in Texas has been in a state of flux for years following the seminal Granholm v. Heald decision, which opened up many states to direct shipment of wine by wineries in 2005. Following Granholm, plaintiffs in a number of states have filed lawsuits to determine the scope of the court’s ruling, particularly whether it applied to retailers or only wineries.

Lawsuits filed in Texas alleged that Texas laws preventing direct to consumer sales by out of state retailers violated the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution because retailers within Texas were permitted to make such shipments. The cases were decided last year on appeal to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that Texas was not required to allow out of state retailers to ship wine to Texas consumers, but could continue to permit in-state retailers to do so.

Following the Court of Appeals’ ruling, the TABC began notifying retailers that shipments to consumers in Texas were not legal. More recently, the TABC has provided FedEx and UPS with the names of out of state retailers who have recently shipped wine to Texas consumers (TABC has not said how it came to identify such retailers.) FedEx and UPS in turn have agreed to notify the listed retailers that such shipments violate the retailers’ shipping agreements with the companies and may lead the shippers to refuse to ship packages for the involved retailers. For its part, TABC says it will contact the retailers directly and may also contact the alcoholic beverage control agencies in the retailers’ home states in cases where the retailers fail to comply with the TABC’s requests.

Imbiblog is published for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. Copyright © 2010-2011 · All Rights Reserved ·

Direct Shipping Enters New Mexico

April 28th, 2011

New Mexico Senate Bill 445 was signed by Governor Martinez earlier this month making New Mexico a permit state, as opposed to a reciprocal state, for winery direct shipping purposes. New Mexico was the last remaining reciprocal state and the change brings the state into compliance with the U.S. Supreme Court’s Granholm v. Heald ruling in 2005. The law becomes effective on July 1, 2011. The new law only applies to wineries, not retailers. It allows them to ship up to two nine-liter cases of wine per month to a New Mexico consumer, provided the winery has the required shipping permit. The permit will have an annual fee of $50 and be valid from July 1 to June 30 of the following year.

Imbiblog is published for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. Copyright © 2010-2011 · All Rights Reserved ·

United States Supreme Court Asked to Hear Case on Retailer Direct Shipping

November 27th, 2010

A petition for writ of certiorari was filed with the United States Supreme Court earlier this week asking the court to determine

“Whether, notwithstanding Granholm v. Heald, 544 U.S. 460 (2005), the Twenty-first Amendment overrides the Commerce Clause and allows States to discriminate against out-of-state businesses in the sale of alcoholic beverages.”

In the seminal Granholm case, the Supreme Court ruled that states cannot permit in-state wineries to ship direct to consumers within the state, while prohibiting out of state wineries from doing the same.  The question of whether the same rationale applies to retailers remains unresolved.  The current petition to the Supreme Court is based on a dispute in Texas as to whether out-of-state alcoholic beverage retailers should be allowed to ship to Texas consumers under the same rules applied to in-state alcoholic beverage retailers.  The case was originally brought in 2006 by Siesta Village Market and several other retainers against the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.  Siesta Village has dropped its appeal but K& L Wine Merchants and other notable retailers remain.  A couple of large Texas distributors (Glazer’s and Republic) joined as intervenors in order to protect their position in the three-tier distribution system. The case was appealed to the Fifth Circuit on various issues and has now worked its way through to the final appeal – the U.S. Supreme Court.  The Supreme Court accepts very few cases for review – typically accepting only those cases involving a substantial federal interest or a conflict between two or more Circuit Courts of Appeals.  Statistically, the case stands little chance of being accepted, but the scope of the Granholm decision and its applicability to retailers (as opposed to only wineries) may be ripe for further judicial instruction.  The State has until December 22 to file its response.  The Court will decide whether or not to hear the case within a few months.

Imbiblog is published for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. Copyright © 2010 · All Rights Reserved ·