Ruling Expands Wine Shipping Options for Florida Consumers
June 11, 2019
Tallahassee, Flo.—The National Association of Wine Retailers (NAWR) yesterday alerted its members across the country that they may begin legally shipping wine directly to consumers in the state of Florida using common carriers such as FedEx and UPS. A ruling by the Florida Department of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco (DABT) overturns a decades-long ban on consumers receiving wine shipments from out-of-state wine retailers and stores.
The ability of Florida wine lovers to now legally receive wine shipments from out-of-state wine retailers and wine stores instead of only wineries means they will have access to hundreds of thousands of imported, small production, hard-to-find, rare and collectible wines that are not distributed in the state and therefore previously off-limits to Florida wine lovers.
Florida Barred From Enforcing Ban on Out-of-State Wine Shipments
The announcement by NAWR comes after the Association’s close study of a Declaratory Statement issued by the DABT from August 2018 stating that due to a 2005 Federal District Court order the state is prohibited from enforcing Florida law that bans shipments of wine from out-of-state wine vendors and retailers.
The Florida DABT issued its Declaratory Statement on August 15, 2018, in response to a formal request from Indiana wine store Kahn’s Fine Wine and Spirits for clarification concerning whether, as an out-of-state retailer, it may legally ship wine to Florida consumers using a common carrier. The DABT, in its response to Kahn’s Fine Wine, noted that under the terms of the 2005 Order issued in the Bainbridge v Turner case in Florida Federal District Court, the state is barred from enforcing its statutes that prohibit shipments from out-of-state wineries and retailers and prohibiting common carriers from delivering the wine into the state.
It has been mistakenly assumed that the 2005 Bainbridge v Turner lawsuit challenging Florida’s protectionist wine shipping ban resulted in only wineries being able to ship to consumers in Florida. The recent Declaratory Statement from DABT notes that the order applied to retailers also and cleared the way for Floridians to have access to wines sold by out-of-state wine retailers as well as wineries.
Hundreds of Thousands of Wines Now In Reach for Florida Wine Lovers
“Retailers, consumers and common carriers like FedEx and UPS need to know they may now confidently engage in wine-related commerce and interstate shipments of wine to Floridians,” said Tom Wark, executive director of NAWR. “We are pleased with the Florida Division of Alcohol Beverage and Tobacco’s August 2018 Declaratory Statement that assures everyone that Florida is open for business as far as wine shipments and free trade in wine are concerned.”
With the DABT ruling, Florida wine lovers will vastly increase the number of wines to which they have access. As of April 25, 2019, the State of Florida listed only 85,000 alcohol (beer, wine and spirits) products available for sale in the state of Florida. Yet over the previous 24 months, the Federal government has approved for sale in the United States more than 235,000 wine products alone. Floridians will now also have access to thousands of rare, collectible and older vintage wines rarely available in Florida but often sold by fine wine retailers and wine auctions houses around the country.
With the Declaratory Statement by the Florida DABT, the number of states that allow its residents to receive wine shipments from out-of-state retailers and stores increases to 16, including the District of Columbia.
About The National Association of Wine Retailers
NAWR represents wine retailers, wine stores, and wine auction houses located throughout the United States. Its members actively seek to create a modern, well regulated national marketplace for wine by supporting pro-consumer and pro-free trade legislation, litigating where discriminatory and protectionist state laws stifle commerce and through education. For more information see www.nawr.org