Recent Developments in the Wine Wars:

Some recent developments for those continuing to follow the wine wars: Aaron Nielson has a new piece in the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy commenting on the Supreme Court's decision in Granholm v. Heald.

The FTC's Office of Policy Planning (my old office) just released a new advocacy comment yesterday analyzing proposed legislation in Ohio that has been introduced in response to Granholm:

Staff of the Federal Trade Commission’s three bureaus – Competition, Consumer Protection, and Economics – together with the FTC’s Office of Policy Planning yesterday filed a comment with Ohio State Senator Eric Fingerhut, stating its support for Senate Bill (SB) 179, which would allow the direct shipment of wine to Ohio consumers from manufacturers either inside or outside the state, provided certain requirements are met. According to the comment, Ohio’s consumers would benefit from the increased competition the bill would provide, through access both to a greater variety of wines and many wines at lower prices.


In addition to promoting competition, which results in access to a greater variety of wine and lower prices for Ohio consumers, the comment states that the bill contains language that will ensure it does not result in the shipment of wine to underage consumers. Specifically, the consumer who orders the wine must be at least 21 years old and personally sign for the wine when it is delivered. The comment also reiterates the FTC staff’s finding that states that permit interstate direct wine shipments report few or no problems with tax collection. The bill contains language to ensure this is the case in Ohio by requiring the manufacturer either to collect all applicable taxes from the consumer and pay them, or notify consumers that they are liable for such taxes.


Concluding its comment, the staff wrote, “[b]ased on our review, [we believe] that, if enacted, SB 179 would enhance consumer welfare and allow Ohio to meet its other public policy goals. By allowing interstate direct shipping, SB 179 likely would allow Ohio residents to purchase both a greater variety of wines and many wines at lower prices. In addition, by requiring manufacturers to comply with certain regulatory requirements, SB 179 would allow Ohio to prevent shipments to minors and to collect taxes on direct shipments.”

For those who may be interested, the original Wine Wars document has now

been substantially revised and published as an article in the NYU Journal of Law & Liberty, available here.