Kentucky eases wine shipping rules

Kentucky's criminal statute against out-of-state wineries shipping wine into Kentucky has been ruled unenforceable by U.S. District Court Judge Charles Simpson in Louisville.

The ruling was in response to a lawsuit filed by Huber's Orchard & Winery (its logo is seen here) in southern Indiana, which claimed Kentucky’s law violated the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution by giving preference to Kentucky businesses over out-of-state merchants.

Now, and until a new law goes into effect in January, Kentucky cannot enforce the criminal statute against out-of-state wineries shipping into Kentucky.

Dan Meyer, executive director of the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of Kentucky, said the ruling needs to be studied to see how it may impact the new law.

“This is round one,” he said. “We’ll see where to go from here.”

The state General Assembly passed a law earlier this year requiring Kentucky wineries to sell their goods through wholesalers, the same as producers of beer or spirits.

Simpson also struck down current provisions requiring consumers who want wine shipped to order it in person. That could allow orders of out-of-state wine by telephone, mail or Internet. He said requiring customers to order in person gives too much advantage to Kentucky wineries, thus violating interstate commerce protections.

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