October 30, 2008, 12:00 AM

Court ruling uncorks online wine shipments to Michigan

A federal court ruling has opened the door for online wine merchants to sell directly to Michigan residents. Another 13 states plus the District of Columbia now permit direct-to-consumer wine shipments by out-of-state retailers.

By ruling that a Michigan law banning direct-to-consumer wine sales by out-of-state retailers is unconstitutional, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan has opened the door for online wine retailers to sell to Michigan residents.

“We support free trade, and state laws against out-of-state wine retailers are anti-consumer,” says Rich Bergsund, CEO of Wine.com. “We’re pleased by the federal court’s ruling and are delighted to open our doors to Michigan residents.” The ruling was handed down at a particularly good time, allowing Wine.com to increase market penetration in time for the holidays, Bergsund adds.

Wine.com is shipping into Michigan despite a temporary legal stay on the court ruling as Michigan legislators consider a new law that would prohibit wine shipments to residents by in-state as well as out-of-state retailers, a Wine.com spokeswoman says.

Aside from Michigan, 13 states plus the District of Columbia allow for direct-to-consumer wine shipments from out-of-state retailers, says Tom Wark, executive director of the Specialty Wine Retailers Association.

bill@verticalwebmedia.com

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