The FY 2015 state budget signed by Governor Deval Patrick last week includes a provision that creates a new Direct Wine Shipper license in Massachusetts. The law will take effect on January 1, 2015 and will take Massachusetts off of a dwindling list of states that bar direct wine shipping, a list that includes: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Kentucky, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, and Utah. This change in Massachusetts law comes after intense pressure by industry groups and local sports figures.
The new law requires wineries, vineyards, or manufacturers to apply for a state-issued shipping license and pay a $300 fee, with a $150 renewal fee every year. All shipped packages must be marked to require a signature upon deliver with the words “CONTAINS ALCOHOL: REQUIRES SIGNATURE OF AND PERSONAL DELIVERT TO A PERSON LEGALLY AUTHORIZED TO CONSUME ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES IN THE COMMONWEALTH” with a seal of licensure. The wine must be purchased and shipped to a Massachusetts resident who is 21 years of age and older. The new license allows shippers to deliver no more than 12 cases of wine to consumers each year.
Any person, firm, or corporation who violates these new provisions will be deemed to have engaged in a deceptive act or practice under chapter 93A and may be subject to license suspension or fines.
The new law does not address the delivery-truck law which requires a delivery permit for each truck involved in the delivery of alcohol, at a cost of $200 per permit. Most states allow for one permit to cover an entire freight company. According to the Boston Globe, State Representative Ted Speliotis of Danvers will push for a fleet-wide permit system if the existing law has a detrimental effect to wine shippers.