It is a glorious start to 2010! 2009 was a difficult year forr wine lovers in Massachusetts. Attorney General Martha Coakley appealed a court decision which declared MA House Bill 4498 unconstitutional. When it was declared unconstitutional, there was hope that soon enough, MA residents could order wine directly from wineries. The hearing on the appeal was held and the decision was just rendered, supporting the original court decision!
You can read the full opinion and it makes a quite damning argument against the three tier system. Hopefully other states will start feeling the same way as this court. The opinion also provides some intriguing statistics about wine sales in the U.S.
"In 2006, the year § 19F was enacted, 5,350 registered wineries in the United States produced a total of 646,395,818 gallons of wine, which includes both grape wine and fruit wine production. Almost all of the country's wine production and sales come from a small number of wineries. In 2006, the five largest wineries in the U.S. produced approximately 70 percent of the country's wine. The country's thirty largest wineries comprised approximately 92 percent of the market, and each produced between 680,000 and 150 million gallons per year. The rest of the commercial market--the 3,540 wineries which produce between one and 680,000 gallons per year--competed for 8 percent of the market share. Finally, 1,780 wineries produced less than one gallon of wine per year and had virtually zero percent of the market share."
Now, though this is an extremely positive step forward, we must still understand that the battle is not yet over. There might still be an additional appeal. A new law could be enacted to limit outside wine shipments, trying to follow the guidelines within the appellate decision. We have made much progress but the fight continues for now. Let us have hope.
For additional information, check out a new post on this topic over at Fermentation.