Ruling Expands Wine Shipping Options for Florida Consumers

Shallow focus abstract shot of a series of wine bottles with different kinds of wine laying flat

The National Association of Wine Retailers (NAWR) yesterday alerted its members across the country that they may begin legally shipping wine directly to consumers in the state of Florida using common carriers such as FedEx and UPS.

A ruling by the Florida Department of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco (DABT) has overturned a decades-long ban on consumers receiving wine shipments from out-of-state wine retailers and stores.

The ability of Florida consumers to now legally receive wine shipments from out-of-state wine retailers and wine stores — instead of only wineries — means they will have access to hundreds of thousands more wines that are not distributed in the state and therefore previously off-limits to Floridians.

The announcement by NAWR comes after the association’s study of a Declaratory Statement issued by the DABT from August 2018 stating that, due to a 2005 Federal District Court order, the state is prohibited from enforcing Florida law that bans shipments of wine from out-of-state wine vendors and retailers.

The Florida DABT issued its Declaratory Statement on August 15, 2018, in response to a formal request from Indiana wine store Kahn’s Fine Wine and Spirits for clarification concerning whether, as an out-of-state retailer, it may legally ship wine to Florida consumers using a common carrier. The DABT, in its response to Kahn’s Fine Wine, noted that under the terms of the 2005 Order issued in the Bainbridge v Turner case in Florida Federal District Court, the state is barred from enforcing its statutes that prohibit shipments from out-of-state wineries and retailers, and prohibiting common carriers from delivering the wine into the state.

It has been mistakenly assumed that the 2005 Bainbridge v Turner lawsuit challenging Florida’s protectionist wine shipping ban resulted in only wineries being able to ship to consumers in Florida. The recent Declaratory Statement from DABT notes that the order applied to retailers also and cleared the way for Floridians to have access to wines sold by out-of-state wine retailers as well as wineries.

“Retailers, consumers and common carriers like FedEx and UPS need to know they may now confidently engage in wine-related commerce and interstate shipments of wine to Floridians,” says Tom Wark, executive director of NAWR. “We are pleased with the Florida Division of Alcohol Beverage and Tobacco’s August 2018 Declaratory Statement that assures everyone that Florida is open for business as far as wine shipments and free trade in wine are concerned.”

With the Declaratory Statement by the Florida DABT, the number of states that allow its residents to receive wine shipments from out-of-state retailers and stores increases to 16, including the District of Columbia.

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