How to Ship Wine Legally to Texas

Categories: Wine Time

american flag cork.jpg
Photo by Jeremy Parzen.
Ever since the repeal of Prohibition, interstate shipping of wine has been a contentious issue for our nation.
In the wake of my post Wednesday, "Texas Wine Shipping Prohibition Is Morally Indefensible (and Bad for Business)," I wanted to follow up with some tips on how to ship wine legally to Texas.

Although it hasn't been updated for more than two years, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission does have an informative page on wine shipping within and from outside our state.

Shipping from an out-of-state retailer is prohibited in Texas, but individuals may ship wine to Texas as long as the shipments are "non-commercial transactions."

According to the TABC site, "If you are an individual interested in shipping wine to a friend or family member in Texas as a gift, you may do so, as long as you use a TABC-licensed common carrier."

This means that as long as you use a licensed carrier like FedEx or UPS, you can ship to Texas.

Here's the hitch: FedEx and UPS won't allow you to ship wine unless you are a licensed shipper in the state of origin.

In other words, you can go to wine shop in Los Angeles and purchase wine and a wine Styrofoam wine shipper. But FedEx or UPS won't accept the wine from you.

I am aware of individuals who drop wine shipments off at courier retail locations without labeling the packaging as a wine shipment. In many cases, the courier will accept the package. But in recent years, as the issue has become more and more contentious and as states (like ours) have begun to send out cease and desist letters to couriers, employees at the courier retailer locations have been trained to identity illegal wine shipments and instructed not to receive them.

So how is it possible to ship wine that you've purchased from an out-of-state retailer? The answer: You need to use a third-party licensed wine shipper.

In California, there are a number of them, mostly located in Santa Barbara, Sonoma, and Napa counties. They generally service wineries: Because it can be prohibitively costly for small wineries to pay the annual licensing fees required by law to ship to states like Texas, they turn to third party shippers who don't sell the wine to the end consumer; they merely provide shipping services. (And remember, the 2005 Granholm decision by the U.S. Supreme Court upheld U.S. wineries' constitutional right to engage in interstate commerce and to ship wine to any state in the union.)

Here's how it works. You visit or call a winery and buy wine. You then deliver the wine to a third-party shipper or you ask the winery to deliver it to a third-party shipper. The third-party shipper (who is not the producer or a retailer of wine) then ships it to you. I've spoken with a TABC representative who confirmed that the state of Texas considers this a perfectly legal way to ship wine here.

It's not cheap, but it's legal. Is it worth it? If you love wine and its mosaic of diversity as much as I do, it sure is...



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7 comments
redraider
redraider

I had a recommendation while traveling in Washington to use the same box with styrofoam container but to use it as my second checked bag on United.  I am a elite memeber so the second bag is only $25, which is the real crime. I am sure it is not legal but it was no issue and had no problems with it.  Just food for thought.

tomcwark
tomcwark

"And remember, the 2005 Granholm decision by the U.S. Supreme Court upheld U.S. wineries' constitutional right to engage in interstate commerce and to ship wine to any state in the union."

 

This isn't exactly what Granholm did. In the 2005 case the Court stated that a state may altogether ban shipments to consumers, but if it does so it must ban the action for both its own wineries as well as other states' wineries. So, A state may not allow it's own wineries to ship wine to its residents but ban out of state wineries from doing the same. However, it CAN ban both in-state and out of state wineries from shipping to residents of the state.

tgutting
tgutting

Very useful, Jeremy. If you're someone who wants to purchase a lot from out-of-state retailers, a good option is to use a third-party wine storage facility -- All Ways Cool, 55 Degrees, and others in California are good examples -- that will accept shipments from retailers and store it on your behalf, then ship it based on your instruction. Also legal and a way to cut down shipment costs by maximizing the amounts you're shipping at any given time.

NYTupelo7
NYTupelo7

@duncanpaisley GOP slowed it down, yet they attempt to blame Pres Obama...strategy along with all their lies.

DoBianchi
DoBianchi

@mlbyington I hope that this is useful. I figured out how to do it because I can't survive by Texas-authorized wines alone! cc...

DoBianchi
DoBianchi

 @tomcwark thanks for the clarification. It's a commonly held misconception. But your clarification also explains why there are some states that can still ban shipping entirely. thanks 

DoBianchi
DoBianchi

 @tgutting I didn't want to go on record naming venues that will provide this service, but like you point out, wine storage facilities often do as well... thanks Tom for following this story and offering the info... :) 

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