California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger yesterday signed the bill that requires a level playing field for wine shipments between states in California, meaning any licensed winery in the US will be able to apply for a permit to ship to California adult residents.

The decision was toasted by Family Winemakers of California. "Our association of small wineries in California has worked hard and dug deep over the past five years to create more direct-to-consumer wine sales. In California, SB 118 represents the next step suggested in Justice Kennedy's majority opinion, that reciprocity laws for wine producers are barriers to interstate commerce," said Jim Richards, FWC chair and co-owner of Paloma Vineyard in St. Helena.

"Other states should see the wisdom of ending discrimination in shipping by wine producers and we're hopeful that California's decision to open its market to all producers serves as an invitation to action," he continued.

SB 118 allows licensed out-of-state wine producers to apply for a direct shipping permit from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control for US$10 annually. Permittees are required to register with the State Board of Equalization in order to appropriately collect and remit sales and excise taxes. Wine shipped to adult California consumers must be labelled according to requirements and a signature must be collected by the common carrier.