Faculty Research at Morehead State University


Creating a Common Market for Wine: Boutique Wines, Direct Shipment, and State Alcohol Regulation

Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2012


Boutique wineries are unable to ship directly to consumers nationwide because state laws continue to discriminate against out-of-state wineries even though the United States Supreme Court in Granholm v. Heald (2005) held that these laws violate the dormant Commerce Clause. This discrimination is rooted in a policy conflict between state alcohol beverage control systems and the boutique winery coalition which brought the direct shipment issue to the Supreme Court in Granholm and continues to shape the contested state-of-the-law in three ways. First, Granholm has led to the adoption of revised state direct shipment statutes, which only lessen the discrimination against out-of-state wineries. Second, these statutes have been challenged in the federal courts which disagree about applicability of Granholm to two key provisions in revised state statutes: winery production caps and in-person purchase requirements. Third, this litigation has led to the introduction of legislation in Congress which, if adopted, will undermine Granholm and permit the states to enact even more discriminatory direct shipment laws. In sum, this article concludes that Granholm has made boutique wines more available, but has not created a national common market for wine.