Virginia ABC Warns Against "Unauthorized" Wine Shipping

FILED AUGUST 1, 2009

Dear Client:

The Virginia ABC sent a letter to all licensed shippers announcing it will not allow unlicensed, third party fulfillment houses to ship wine directly to residents in the state. Ship Compliant posted the letter on its blog today.

In the opening paragraph, the ABC states: “In state and out of state Virginia shipper licensees may only sell and ship authorized alcoholic beverages from their licensed address through approved common carriers. Licensees may not contract with third parties such as fulfillment warehouses, marketing companies, or other businesses to receive or ship orders for them.”

The letter goes on to state that “all orders must be received directly by the licensed shipper, at their licensed location, by their employees.” This means that in order to fulfill internet wine orders from Virginia residents, licensed wineries must take the orders themselves.

That applies to the logistics side as well: “Orders must be shipped through approved common carriers from their licensed location, by their employees.” Again, the Virginia ABC stipulates that licensed wineries must ship orders directly from their location through approved common carriers (such as Fed Ex). Virginia will not accept orders coming from unlicensed warehouses and other entities.

Unfortunately for licensees, they will be the ones punished, not the non-licensee. “Any licensee in violation is subject to being fined and/or having their license suspended or revoked,” states the letter.

Is this the beginning of a new ABC trend among states? Recall that the California ABC issued an advisory in June warning against third party service providers who provide assistance to wineries selling wine online in California.

SOUTH CAROLINA LAWYERS CAST DOUBT ON DRINKING AGE

A couple of lawyers in South Carolina have reportedly created enough doubt around the legal drinking age to grab the attention of the state legislature and perhaps even the state supreme court. Magistrate Mel Maurer recently ruled that the South Carolina law setting the drinking age at 21 is unconstitutional after hearing arguments from attorney Joe McCulloch. On behalf of his 20-year old client, Joe argued that state laws are in conflict with the South Carolina constitution, which says residents have the full rights of an adult at 18, but lawmakers “may restrict the sale of alcoholic beverages to persons until age twenty-one.” In other words, the constitution only prohibits the sale of alcohol to people under 21, and doesn’t prohibit the possession or consumption of alcohol. Since his client was merely a passenger in a car originally pulled over for a broken headlight, Joe claims the charges brought against the defendant are unconstitutional. Meanwhile, despite what the state constitution says, state laws say it's unlawful for a person who is eighteen but less than twenty-one to "consume, or knowingly possess alcoholic liquors".

Another magistrate in Aiken County made a similar ruling. Both cases are currently being appealed which means they could eventually be heard by the Supreme Court. If the high court agrees, state lawmakers would then have to decide whether to have a constitutional amendment vote during the general election in 2010 to clarify exactly what the legal drinking age will be in the state.

Joe gives the classic argument in favor of a lowered drinking age, pointing out that 18-year adults are deemed “responsible enough to go die in war and defend our country but not responsible enough to drink alcohol.”

Meanwhile, MADD argues that lowering the legal drinking age would result in more traffic deaths because “before the age of 21, your brain is not fully developed,” said South Carolina spokeswoman Wendy-Ann Haynes. If that’s the case, why are we allowing anyone below the age of 21 to drive a car, work, or again, go to war? In the article Wendy-Ann went on to give an example of an under-age girl who caused a fatal crash in South Carolina while driving under the influence.

NEW YORK TRAGEDY. Unfortunately, setting a drinking age doesn’t always protect us from irresponsible, erratic drivers. Just look at the horrible situation in New York where a 36-year old woman killed herself, her daughter, 3 nieces and 3 men in another car by driving the wrong way down the highway. Her blood alcohol was 0.19% and she reportedly had marijuana in her system. She is 15 years past the legal drinking age and yet still made poor decisions resulting in this terrible tragedy.

WSD BRIEFS:

COPIA CREDITORS HAVE UNTIL FRIDAY (August 7) to vote on a liquidation plan for the Napa institution, reports The Press Democrat. One plan would allow it to re-open as a wine education, conference and visitor center. With assets worth about $25 to $35 million, unsecured creditors would receive about 13 cents on the dollar, while secured creditors would share the proceeds from a sale of the property. Ex-employees with claims for unpaid wages are expected to receive the full amount of what they’re owed. Judge Alan Jaroslovsky will hold a hearing on the liquidation plan Aug. 14.

KENDALL-JACKSON WILL NO LONGER DONATE over $100,000 a year and cases of wine to the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts, which helps children to participate in the center’s programs each year. They were the second largest donor after Wells Fargo and averaged about $1 million over 5 years. Winery spokeswoman Caroline Shaw told The Press Democrat that this doesn’t reflect “on the strength of the company,” but rather “a new strategic marketing vision.”


Until tomorrow, Megan

“The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.”
Mark Twain

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