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Effective January 1, 2015, Massachusetts will become the 41st state to allow direct wine shipments from large out-of-state wineries.  Massachusetts General Law 138, section 19F was amended by St.2014, c.165, s.162 (H294) to include language allowing shipment of 12 cases per year per purchaser containing not more than 9 liters of wine per case.

Other changes include requiring wineries to obtain state-issued “direct wine shipping licenses,” requiring delivery trucks to obtain a permit to transport alcohol, and requiring a signature from a person of legal drinking age upon accepting deliveries.

This change has taken several years to accomplish:

  • MGL c.138, s.19F was enacted over the veto of  Governor Mitt Romney and became effective in February 2006. This law significantly limits the ability of wineries to ship to Massachusetts.
  • In November  2008, the Federal District Court ruled that MGL c. 138, s. 19F  discriminated against interstate commerce in violation of the of the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.
  • In January 2010, the 1st Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the lower court ruling in Family Winemakers of California v. Jenkins, 592 F.3d 1 (2010).  The court said that the law was unconstitutional because “the effect of [s.19F]’s particular gallonage cap is to change the competitive balance between in-state and out-of-state wineries in a way that benefits Massachusetts’s wineries and significantly burdens out-of-state competitors.”
  • In the intervening years, bills have been introduced, but none have passed. Finally, in June 2014, the budget sent to the Governor included the new language on direct shipping of wine, and the Governor signed the law on July 11, 2014. The new law becomes effective on January 1, 2015.

Cheers!

 

 

 

 

 

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