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The Supreme Court decided yesterday to allow US vineyards to sell wine over the internet to punters in different states. Previous laws restricted sales to within the state.

The decision overturned laws in Michigan and New York which stopped wine purchases except within the state. Industry observers hope the change will benefit smaller producers.

The court ruled that restricting sales was unconstitutional because it favoured producers within the state. The case centred on the 21st Amendment which ended Prohibition in 1933.

The decision was split 5 votes to 4. The dissenting judges believe the states should regulate alcohol sales themselves. States are free to do this but will have to stop favouring local producers.

George Garrick, chief executive of wine.com, told the San Francisco Chronicle that the change would only impact on small producers. He said direct sales were a tiny proportion of total sales but noted: “Some of them are good wines, and if you come and visit one of those wineries when you're on vacation in Napa and want to be able to have them send you wines, that's fine, and that's what this law is all about.”

More details here. ®

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