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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
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

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £38,000

£16000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Parts Sales Advisor - OTE 18k-23k

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of Ford's leading Parts Who...

SThree: Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: Do you want to learn ...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders