Mark Aselstine
June 29, 2012 | Mark Aselstine

Canada Ends Federal Wine Shipping Ban

In the United States every state holds the power to control how alcohol is marketed, sold and transported.  At Uncorked Ventures we think that’s a good thing.  More local control has been shown time and time again to help prevent and lessen underage drinking which is good for everyone in the wine industry, even those of us selling wine at price points which simply aren’t attractive to underage buyers.  That being said, dealing with specific license requirements in states which allow out of state retailers to ship directly to consumers can be oppressive to small business. Some states go even further by preventing out of state wineries and/or retailers from shipping directly to citizens in their state, while also allowing in state wineries and retailers to ship wine directly to them.  Aside from the obvious and clear violation of the Commerce Clause (which judging by the recent health care ruling, the Supreme Court still views as a valuable part of the Constitution given it was referenced in the majority opinion) that hurts consumer choice.  If you live in Pennsylvania as an example, you can come to California to visit Napa Valley, but can’t have wine shipped back to your house.  Is that really preventing underage drinking?  Is it really doing anything other than restraining trade for out of state retailers?


I bring all this up because Canada has many of the same sets of rules and regulations regarding alcohol shipments from one Province to another.  Their rules, like ours, were enacted after Prohibition.  Unlike the United States though, where the federal government decided after Prohibition to get out of the alcohol regulation business, the Canadian federal government did have a set of laws on the books which eliminated a large part of winery to consumer shipments across Province lines.

From CNews: “OTTAWA - With the stroke of the governor general's pen, Conservative MP Dan Albas's bill to eliminate the federal ban on transporting wine across provincial borders became law Thursday”

It is, without a doubt an important step for consumer choice in Canada and we hope a good sign for continued loosening of restrictions which eliminate consumer choice as well as our ability to compete with business with local retailers.


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