Laws on shipping wine among states vary. Complete understanding of individual laws on the shipment of wine for each state is almost impossible since newer laws are made each year replacing the older laws. Supreme Court decisions also play a major role in how the laws on shipment of wine are interpreted. What is clear is that shipping wine between two states can be heavily looked down upon by some states.
It all began when the Twenty-First Amendment to the United States Constitution repealed the Eighteenth Amendment, which mandated Prohibition on a national scale. It was a botched national experiment attempting to eradicate the consumption of alcoholic beverages. The repeal of prohibition ushered in an age where each state was awarded control over its own alcohol shipments from one state to another. Many states completely outlawed alcohol shipments both into and out of the state, irrespective of the age of both the one who shipped it and the one who receives it. Other states passed laws restricting shipments and created barriers to shipping without a license.
Presently, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin offer reciprocal status for the shipment of alcohol — meaning you can ship wine between these states without any red-tape. This is good if you live in these states and quite unfortunate if you don’t.
Other states including Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, and Wyoming offer restrictive status – meaning it may not be illegal per se. But if you break the law by shipping too many bottles, or ship too often, then it is considered illegal.
Finally, there are the states that are highly restrictive. Arkansas, Delaware, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Utah make shipping alcoholic beverages in between these states illegal in certain instances. These states have antiquated laws that are hold-overs from the prohibition days.
If you are selling your wine collection across state lines, look for a wine buyer who knows these laws better than you do. And don’t just take their word for it. See for yourself how your state, and your buyer’s state, view alcohol shipments. The following is a wonderful location to view the laws of both your state, and the state to which you are shipping:
Fortunately, due to the internet and changing views on shipping wine, the laws are quickly changing to make it easier for individuals to ship. Contact your trusted wine buyer or alcohol buyer to find the most recent laws.