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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Court of Appeals reinstates Indiana face-to-face shipping rule

No Wine!The U.S. 7th Court of Appeals in Chicago this week dealt a blow to direct shipping in Indiana by reinstating the face-to-face clause in the state’s law that was struck down by the U.S. District Court in Indianapolis one year ago. That clause requires that Indiana residents fill out an age-verification form in person at any winery from which they wish to order wine.

According to The Wine Spectator, a three-judge panel that heard arguments on February 22 reinstated the face-to-face verification provision in a decision handed down on Aug. 7. “It is important to remember that we are dealing with effects on the margin,” the court's ruling explained. “Make it easier for minors to get wine by phone or Internet, and sales to minors will increase.”

But the latest rule change does not completely reverse the previous ruling. “Quite frankly, we won the big one—that out-of-state wineries are not excluded,” Ed O’Keefe, CEO of Michigan’s Grand Traverse winery and a driving force behind the 2007 repeal, said. “This face-to-face thing is not such a bad deal. There’s always some way [to legally ship wine].”

The legal challenges in Indiana and elsewhere will continue. “[Direct shipping is] a running battle,” O’Keefe said. “It keeps going and we keep winning the tactical battles, and eventually the whole situation will be solved in a few years.”

Some states that allow direct shipping of wine require shippers to conduct age verifications upon delivery. There are also several online age-verification services that wineries can use to determine legal age before the sale takes place.
J. Silverheels Gray, 5:24 PM


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