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.
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