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New York Wineries to Reap Benefits of Court Ruling

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – It will no longer be a crime for states to ship wines out of town. On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that state laws, including one in New York, which blocked outside wineries from shipping directly to consumers in the state is unconstitutional.

The U.S. Supreme Court voted 5-to-4, striking down laws in both New York and Michigan.

Those laws made it a crime to buy wine directly from vineyards in another state.

Jim MacKenzie, Vice President of the Empire Liquor Store Association, saidd the law was initially designed to protect state wineries.

"The Supreme Court decided to hear two cases, one stemming from Virginia, the other out of Michigan," said MacKenzie. "The case from Virginia involved a small winery which sued because they were unable to ship wines into New York and other states. It finally ended up in the Supreme Court."

MacKenzie said he now hopes it is a victory for both wineries and consumers. But MacKenzie says he doesn't really think it will be a huge benefit for consumers.

"Unless they are trying to find those really difficult, hard to get wines, maybe some that are produced in California, where there is very limited access, they would have a better opportunity to get those wine by mail," said MacKenzie. "But other than that, it really is not going to be that much of an advantage to the consumer as one would think."

However, Western New York Congresswoman Louise Slaughter said she sees it as a victory for the rights of all consumers.

Slaugther has been a leading voice to end the ban on shipment of wines. She said for New York State wineries, which produce over 100-million bottles of wine each year, it is a victory.

But in order for the ruling to be enacted, the State Assembly must support the decision.