The 5-Minute Briefing: The future of American wine


Why are American wine producers drunk with happiness all of a sudden?

Why are American wine producers drunk with happiness all of a sudden?

The Supreme Court just voted by a 5-4 margin to lift a long-standing ban on direct wine purchases from one state to another. In other words, if you live in New York, you can now order your favourite Napa Valley cabernet on the internet and have it sent to your house from California rather than wait for your local wine shop to stock it. Until now, direct sales were only permitted in-state - and even then not everywhere around the country. The change is good news for wine producers, especially the smaller ones who don't have the marketing clout to get their products into the supermarkets and larger retail chains. Many have had to turn down requests from would-be consumers; now they expect to double, or even triple or quadruple, their sales volume. Tim Meinken of the Sapphire Hill winery in Healdsburg, northern California, told the San Francisco Chronicle: "We think it's the greatest thing since the wine bottle was invented."

So are the Supreme Court justices more fond of their tipple than their conservative reputations would suggest? Or is this about something else entirely?

The ruling crossed ideological lines and created alliances in the court not seen in any other case. Some of the argument was about free trade. The majority saw no reason to ban interstate commerce in wine - a ban that arose in the political wheeler-dealing surrounding the end of Prohibition in the 1930s - while the minority argued that such commerce risked depriving states of crucial tax revenues. Some of the argument, though, was indeed about alcohol. The majority examined the assertion that increased trade would lead to greater abuse by minors, but found no evidence for it. The Justices' own drinking habits were not disclosed in the ruling.

Does this mean dry counties in the Deep South will be a little less dry? Do the temperance warriors have any room for a backlash?

If a state doesn't want people ordering wine off the internet it still has the option of banning all direct sales - both in-state and out-of-state. The Supreme Court ruling merely said you could not permit one and ban the other. Fifteen states already have such a ban, and others may now consider it. But New York, the biggest market outside California, is unlikely to deprive itself of direct sales because its own vintners would revolt. So the net effect will be more commerce, and quality bibulousness.

Does this have anything to do with the popularity of the film Sideways, set in the wine country of Santa Barbara County?

No, but knowing Hollywood, we can expect a DVD release marketing tie-in.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
people
Sport
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
tech
News
Detail of the dress made entirely of loom bands
news
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Teacher

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: The Job...Due to continued ...

Supply Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Supply TeachersWould you l...

Job opportunities for SEN teachers and support staff in Essex

£50 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: We are urgently looking for...

Technology Teacher (Resistant Materials and Graphics)

£120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: We are urgently looking for an ex...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice