Shipping wine for the holidays? Not so fast


Sending a bottle of holiday cheer to my friends in Massachusetts seemed like it would be easy enough. I logged onto the Rare Wine Company, my favorite fine wine source. Their monthly newsletter arrived in my mailbox just days ago, and I picked out a nice Pinot Noir. When I called to make sure it would arrive before Christmas, I learned that it's illegal for wine merchants to ship to Massachusetts -- and 13 other states (CT, FL, GA, IN, KY, MD, MI, LA, NC, PA, TN, UT, VA).

A 2005 Supreme Court decision opened the door for interstate wine shipping to states that allow in-state vintners to sell directly to consumers. So I logged onto David Bruce Winery, an excellent Pinot Noir producer I visited when I was in the Santa Cruz, Calif. area a few years ago. Again, I picked up the phone to make sure the wine would arrive in time. Lo and behold, I learned that wineries are also limited as to which states they can ship to.

Next, I decided to see if there was a loophole for mail order companies whose baskets combine food and wine like Wine Country Gift Baskets. I clicked on their FAQs page -- and hit another brick wall. I logged onto the Wine Institute to learn about state shipping laws, and realized there was no way I could ship wine to Massachusetts any time soon.