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Direct to Consumer Wine Shipping Laws: 5 Rules and Regulations

By
Sarah Ward
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Direct to Consumer Wine Shipping Laws and More

A big part of the business of starting a winery is related to selling your wine for everyone to enjoy. By extension, that means you need to learn how to ship wine. You'll need to learn about selling on your winery premises to working with wine distributors and learning about wine shipping laws.

Those laws include direct to consumer (D2C) wine shipping laws. Your wine sales will take a lot of work and understanding of the laws and regulations around distributing alcohol. Depending on how you’re distributing your wine, the rules will differ. You’ll find different regulations depending on where you’re located and where you're sending your wine to be sold. The laws around selling alcohol aren’t something you want to mess around with.

That’s why BinWise is here. We'll help you learn more and point you in the right direction for learning everything you need to know about selling your wine. If you’re working at a winery, these regulations will be helpful for you to know as well.

binwise beverage inventory platform direct to consumer wine shipping laws

US Wine Laws

The US wineries' regulations cover a range from wine label laws to direct to consumer wine shipping laws. When it comes to your wine labels, there’s some information you’re required to include. That info is:

  • Your brand name
  • The wine type
  • Alcohol content percentage
  • The bottle volume (or liquor bottle sizes)
  • Sulfite content
  • The producer’s name and address

That information provides wholesalers and buyers with the facts they need to know about where the wine is coming from. It also tells them what they can expect in the bottle. 

Wine distribution laws, from direct to consumer wine shipping laws to wholesale laws, have a bit more information. They’re more crucial to the correct distribution of wine. We’ll go state by state, to give you an overview of everything you should know before you start shipping wine.

Wine Distribution Laws by State

Entire websites are devoted to the specific laws each state has in place for distributing wine and other alcoholic beverages. For this article, we’ll be tackling the individual state rules on distributing directly to consumers.

That is one of the main topics you should be versed on besides the wholesale definition for distribution. The rules of direct to consumer wine shipping laws for each state are:

A-K

  • Alabama: you can ship directly to consumers.
  • Alaska: you can ship directly to consumers.
  • Arizona: you can ship directly to consumers.
  • Arkansas: you can ship directly to consumers as long as they purchase the wine while on your winery premises.
  • California: you can ship directly to consumers.
  • Colorado: you can ship directly to consumers.
  • Connecticut: you can ship directly to consumers.
  • Delaware: you can ship directly to consumers through onsite orders only in certain conditions. For the most part, however, sales must go through a local wholesaler.
  • Florida: you can ship directly to consumers.
  • Georgia: you can ship directly to consumers.
  • Hawaii: you can ship directly to consumers.
  • Idaho: you can ship directly to consumers.
  • Illinois: you can ship directly to consumers.
  • Indiana: you can ship directly to consumers.
  • Iowa: you can ship directly to consumers.
  • Kansas: you can ship directly to consumers.
  • Kentucky: you can ship directly to consumers.

L-O

  • Louisiana: you can ship directly to consumers, as long as those wines aren’t registered as sellable to wholesalers. In other words, you can only sell limited wines directly to consumers.
  • Maine: you can ship directly to consumers.
  • Maryland: you can ship directly to consumers.
  • Massachusetts: you can ship directly to consumers.
  • Michigan: you can ship directly to consumers.
  • Minnesota: you can ship directly to consumers.
  • Mississippi: you cannot ship directly to consumers.
  • Missouri: you can ship directly to consumers.
  • Montana: you can ship directly to consumers.
  • Nebraska: you can ship directly to consumers.
  • Nevada: you can ship directly to consumers.
  • New Hampshire: you can ship directly to consumers.
  • New Jersey: you can ship directly to consumers.
  • New Mexico: you can ship directly to consumers.
  • New York: you can ship directly to consumers.
  • North Carolina: you can ship directly to consumers.
  • North Dakota: you can ship directly to consumers.
  • Ohio: you can ship directly to consumers.
  • Oklahoma: you can ship directly to consumers.
  • Oregon: you can ship directly to consumers.

P-W

  • Pennsylvania: you can ship directly to consumers.
  • Rhode Island: you can ship directly to consumers as long as they purchase the wine while on your winery premises.
  • South Carolina: you can ship directly to consumers.
  • South Dakota: you can ship directly to consumers.
  • Tennessee: you can ship directly to consumers.
  • Texas: you cannot ship directly to consumers.
  • Utah: you cannot ship directly to consumers.
  • Vermont: you can ship directly to consumers.
  • Virginia: you cannot ship directly to consumers.
  • Washington: you can ship directly to consumers.
  • West Virginia: you can ship directly to consumers.
  • Wisconsin: you can ship directly to consumers.
  • Wyoming: you can ship directly to consumers.

Of course, we aren't legal experts, and we don’t offer legal advice at BinWise. Before you start selling and shipping wine, check out your state’s or country’s laws and regulations on alcohol sales and distribution. You’ll find nuances to these direct to consumer sales shipping rules, as well as rules on every other aspect of wine distribution.

Interstate Wine Shipping Laws

Shipping from state to state comes with its own rules. Wine shipments are allowed between the states, but there isn’t one rule that applies to all states. The specific rules outlined below cover the shipping of all alcoholic beverages.

The states that authorize the direct shipment of all spirits are:

  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Kentucky
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • Rhode Island
  • West Virginia
  • District of Columbia

The states that allow the direct shipment of beer and wine are:

  • Delaware
  • Massachusetts
  • Montana
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oregon 
  • Vermont
  • Virginia

There are also states that specifically allow shipments of wine, cider, and mead. Those states are:

  • Connecticut
  • New Jersey

New Mexico specifically allows the shipment of wine and cider, while Oregon allows beer, wine, and cider to be shipped. Arkansas allows wine and mead to be shipped. The rest of the states only allow direct shipments of wine.

California Wine Tasting Laws

As a state with a lot of wineries, California has some strict wine tasting laws. The following paraphrased excerpts are from California Code Business and Professions Code - BPC, DIVISION 9 - ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES, CHAPTER 15 - Tied-House Restrictions, Section 25503.57. They show just how seriously the state of California takes the subject of winery tastings:

  • A licensed wine seller may conduct tastings at on-sale retail licensed businesses where their products are sold, with permission from the business. The tasting information may include the history, nature, values, characteristics of, and the methods of presenting and serving the wine.
  • For any individual taster, there can be no more than three tastings in one day. A single tasting of distilled spirits cannot exceed one-fourth of one ounce and a single tasting of wine cannot exceed one ounce.
  • A licensed wine seller is responsible for providing the wine or spirits to be tasted. If they do not provide them, they are responsible for purchasing the wine or spirits from the retail licensed business at the original cost.
  • A licensed wine seller must remove any unfinished alcoholic beverages they provide once the tasting ends.

While other states don’t put their tasting laws in these precise terms, similar limitations apply. These rules protect the winery and the tasting room guests regarding general liquor laws. From direct to consumer advertising rules and more, there’s a lot you need to know.

Home Winemaking Laws

When it comes to home winemaking laws, the rules are somewhat separate from winery distribution regulations. There are rules in each state about the quantity an individual can produce in their own home. That quantity can change depending on how many of-age adults reside in the home. 

There are also strict rules about distributing homemade wine and other alcoholic beverages. Unless you have the proper licensing (including a wholesale license), you cannot sell the alcohol you make at home. You can, however, enter your productions into certified contests and tasting events. The rules around these events are enforced in different ways across the states. 

Overall, if you’re planning to make wine at home without selling it, there are still rules you should be aware of. If you’re making a small amount for your own personal enjoyment, you should be fine. It’s better to read ahead, however, than to find out later.

Frequently Asked Questions About Wine Shipping Laws

The world of wine laws and regulations is complicated enough without shipping in the mix. There are lawyers who dedicate their lives to understanding wine shipping rules and regulations. As a winery owner, you don’t have the time for that.

However, it never hurts to keep learning as you go along. Our answers to these frequently asked questions will help you keep learning about wine shipping laws. 

What States Prohibit Wine Shipments?

The states with the most strict rules around wine shipments are Utah, Rhode Island, Mississippi, Delaware, Arkansas, and Alabama. That said, not all of those states downright prohibit wine shipments. Beyond those states, there are varying rules regarding:

  • Who is allowed to ship wine
  • Where wine can be shipped to
  • How much wine an individual can receive in shipments

Can You Mail Wine to Someone?

The USPS prohibits the mailing of any alcoholic beverages by individuals. There are, however, ways you can ship wine through other parties. Companies with the correct licensing can ship wine as a gift through different shipping methods. If you’re looking to send wine to a long-distance friend, looking into a company with the proper permits is the way to go. No bottle of wine is worth a felony.

The question of how to ship a package becomes much more complicated when that package contains alcohol. You’ll find that shipping issues increase when it comes to how to ship alcohol.

Can You Distribute Your Own Alcohol?

You can distribute your own alcohol with the proper licensing. However, that licensing is crucial, as selling any alcohol without a license is illegal. If you’re just starting out in home brewing, you can enter into competitions and events, and let people try your alcohol in that setting. If, however, you want to sell your drinks, look into the licensing needs in your area before you start.

binwise beverage inventory platform direct to consumer wine shipping laws

Wine Shipping Laws: By Bottle or Barrel

From direct to consumer wine shipping laws to interstate wine shipping laws, the world of distributing wine often appears as a tangled web. Working with a wine distribution company can help. That said, even with a company helping out, it’s best for you to understand shipping and distribution laws. It’ll give you a deeper understanding of an important aspect of your winery business plan.

Of course, wine shipping is just one part of the distribution of wine. We touched on California wine tasting laws. Each state has its own rules and regulations regarding serving wine on winery premises. You may find yourself needing to learn how to get a liquor license, or even how to start a bar. Arming yourself with all this knowledge, which you can find on the BinWise blog, is the best way to begin your winery business.