A Californian wine trade association is challenging the state of Massachusetts over its direct shipping legislation.

Family Winemakers of California confirmed yesterday (18 September) that it has filed a lawsuit against the state, seeking to invalidate certain provisions of its recently-enacted direct wine shipping permit law.

The lawsuit claims that Section 19F, which replaces state laws previously declared unconstitutional, is an equally unconstitutional form of discrimination. Rather than limiting wine shipping rights through residency requirements, the suit says, Section 19F limits wine shipping rights based on wineries' total annual production of wine and existing relationships with Massachusetts-licensed wholesalers, the association alleges.

"In purpose and effect, the limits imposed by these capacity caps fall solely upon out-of-state wineries, whereas Massachusetts wineries continue to enjoy unfettered access to the Massachusetts market," FWC said.

"We are one national market," said Paul Kronenberg, FWC president. "But the Massachusetts law is blatantly discriminatory. It aims to protect Bay State wineries, but prevents Massachusetts' consumers from having unfettered choice.

"Last year, the Supreme Court told Michigan and New York to stop the discrimination. But the Massachusetts legislators have chosen to ignore the court's message that we are one national economic market. State laws that protect and perpetuate a wholesaler monopoly at the expense of wineries seeking market opportunities and consumers seeking a wider choice in wine, run counter to the concept of free trade within the nation."

Family Winemakers of California represents around 740 smaller wineries, vineyards and supporting businesses. The organisation was founded in 1991.