Shipping Wine

There was an interesting article in Wednesday’s New York Times about a crackdown on interstate shipping of wine. Since Prohibition the three-tier system has existed in the liquor industry. The tiers are wholesalers, retailers, and producers. Because of this system and prior to the explosion of craft brewery, wholesalers became the biggest segment of the liquor industry.

They have a considerable amount of power and are behind the efforts to curtail interstate shipping of alcoholic beverages. Prior to the advent of the internet some interstate shipping through catalogs went on under the radar of legal authorities. The internet changed all that and it is very easy for anyone, even a minor, to click on an image of a wine bottle and receive it in the mail in a few days.

The retail tier of the three-tier systems is also changing due to the entry of big box stores such as Costco and Trader Joe’s. Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods further complicates the landscape. It is almost the eighty-fourth anniversary of Repeal. It is not clear if the three-tier system erected at that time will continued to exist in its present form for much longer.