Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Winemakers Sue Massachusetts

Family Winemakers Sues Massachusetts to Overturn Law Limiting Direct Wine Sales by Winery Size; Many Small Wineries Forced to Choose One Sales Approach
SACRAMENTO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sept. 18, 2006--Stressing the need for small and medium-sized producers to gain access to the Massachusetts wine market in order to compete and thrive, Family Winemakers of California filed a lawsuit in United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts on September 18 seeking to invalidate certain provisions of Massachusetts' recently enacted direct wine shipping permit law. "Small producers are telling the court that the law violates the Constitution. We are one national market. But the Massachusetts law is blatantly discriminatory. It aims to protect Bay State wineries, but prevents Massachusetts consumers from having unfettered choice," said Paul Kronenberg, FWC President. "Last year, the Supreme Court told Michigan and New York to stop the discrimination. But the Massachusetts legislators have chosen to ignore the Court's message that we are one national economic market. State laws that protect and perpetuate a wholesaler monopoly at the expense of wineries seeking market opportunities and consumers seeking a wider choice in wine, run counter to the concept of free trade within the nation."

The lawsuit asserts that Section 19F replaces Massachusetts laws that this Court previously declared to be unconstitutional with a subtler but equally unconstitutional form of discrimination. Rather than limiting wine shipping rights through express residency requirements, Section 19F limits wine shipping rights based on wineries' total annual production of wine and existing relationships with Massachusetts-licensed wholesalers. In purpose and effect, the limits imposed by these capacity caps fall solely upon out-of-state wineries, whereas Massachusetts wineries continue to enjoy unfettered access to the Massachusetts market.

And while we're at it, let's let supermarkets sell Beer AND Wine.


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