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April 05, 2004
Gregoire Supports Laws Permitting Direct Shipment of Wine

OLYMPIA -- Attorney General Christine Gregoire has urged the U.S. Supreme Court to take a case involving the rights of states to regulate direct-to-consumer shipments of wine.

Gregoire joined 35 other State Attorneys General in requesting the court take an appeal of a Federal Court of Appeals decision which struck down Michigan's ban on direct-to-consumer shipment of wine by out-of-state wineries. The legal analysis applied by the court would also call into question laws by states that, unlike Michigan, allow direct shipment of wine to customers in some other states.

Washington is one of 13 states that have enacted "reciprocity" laws that permit direct shipment of wine to consumers in other states with a similar reciprocal agreement. "Our Legislature chose to allow direct shipments and it has successfully helped Washington wineries, particularly the smaller ones, sell their wines and establish their product," Gregoire said.

By requesting the court's review, Gregoire said she is in no way supporting Michigan's ban on direct shipping. "I support Washington laws permitting direct shipment of wine."

At issue in the case, Gregoire said, is the scope of state authority to regulate shipment of alcoholic beverages. "Like Washington, 26 other states have made the policy decision to allow some form of interstate direct shipments, with safeguards, and we think the rights of states to make that kind of policy decision should be preserved."

Gregoire noted the issue of state authority to allow and regulate direct shipments recently has produced some sharply conflicting decisions among Federal Courts of Appeal. "It is important for the court to consider this issue and end the confusion that is developing within the industry and among consumers," Gregoire said.


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