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US: Michigan passes new direct wine shipments law

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Following a judgement from the US Supreme Court effectively ruling that existing state regulations on wine sales represented an unconstitutional restraint of trade, Michigan's State House has approved new rules allowing for the direct shipment of wine to consumers.

Michigan's old regulations prohibited sales by out-of-state wineries but allowed Michigan wineries to sell directly to customers. The new bill allows this but limits wineries to 4,500 litres per winery per year.

However, the bill has already come in for serious criticism. Critics say the numerous restrictions and licences in the new regulations will in practical terms make it almost impossible to buy wine directly from wineries, hurting both consumers and producers.

But the bill's sponsor, State Representative Chris Ward said the bill was a "reasonable compromise" which protected the interests of consumers without opening up the potential of unregulated sales to minors.

Michigan restaurateurs were particularly critical, saying they would no longer be allowed to buy any wine direct from a producer. Moreover, the Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association, which had supported limits on direct sales, has expressed some reservations about the new bill.


Sectors: Wine

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