The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals brought a little Christmas Eve cheer to the good people of the Bluegrass State when it ruled Wednesday that Kentucky must allow small out-of-state wineries to ship their wares into the state even if a customer buys the wines on-line or over the phone.
Striking down yet another state law which discriminates against out-of-state wineries to the benefit of in-state wines and distributors, the federal appeals court ruling upholds an earlier decision that struck down Kentucky’s law prohibiting wine shipments from out of state.
The three-judge panel ruled that the in-person purchase requirement in Kentucky’s law violates the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. Judge Eric L. Clay wrote for the panel that requiring wine purchasers to drive up to 4,800 miles to buy a bottle of wine is impractical.
“Out-of-state wineries are clearly burdened by Kentucky’s regulatory scheme,” Clay wrote.
The ruling came in a lawsuit filed by Cherry Hill Vineyards, of Rickreall, Ore., which claimed Kentucky’s law gave preference to Kentucky businesses over out-of-state merchants.
Cherry Hill challenged Kentucky’s law on four grounds: that the provision limiting shipments to wineries that produce less than 50,000 gallons a year unfairly protects Kentucky’s small wineries; that limiting shipments to two cases at a time favors local wineries; requiring wine purchases to be made in-person discriminates against out-of-state businesses; and that the creation of the Kentucky Grape and Wine Council leads to Kentucky businesses being treated differently than out-of-state businesses.
~Amy Corron Power