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New Postal Reform Bill Could Affect Shipping Wine

On September 23, 2010, Senator Thomas Carper introduced a new bill to the Senate. The new bill, titled the The Postal Operations Sustainment and Transformation (POST) Act of 2010, serves to reduce the number of home delivery days, close extraneous post offices, and open retail outlets or automated kiosks in grocery stores and other retails stores that would be less expensive to run. The bill creates additional, immediate financial relief for the Postal Service, but with respect to the material traditionally published by On Reserve, will not be discussed in this article. (For further information, please read Postal Service Reform Bill Set for Release.) The new POST Act does serve a more pertinent role in the wine industry: if enacted under its current edition, it would allow for shipping of wine and beer through the USPS system. Currently, wine and beer has been shipped through private shipping services, including FedEx and UPS.

This bill is especially interesting in light of both the Supreme Court’s holding in Granholm v. Heald, as well as subsequent federal court decisions that deal with wine shipment issues, and in light of the aim of H.R. 5034. Whereas the POST Act aims to increase the flow of revenue and allows the federal Postal Service system to provide additional services by offering options like shipping wine and beer, one might wonder how this Act would assist the Postal Service if H.R. 5034 is simultaneously enacted. If both bills are to become law, wineries in states that disallow direct shipment would not be allowed to directly ship wine to customers through any means, including the Postal Service system. For supporters of the POST Act who seek to increase the flow of revenue throughout the federal Postal Service system, opposing H.R. 5034—a bill that seeks to, essentially, limit the shipping of wine and beer through means such as the Postal Service—would be within the best interest of the Postal Service.

For more information on wine or alcohol law, direct shipping, or three-tier distribution, please contact Lindsey Zahn.

DISCLAIMER: This blog post is for general information purposes only, is not intended to constitute legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship results. Please consult your own attorney for legal advice.

Lindsey A. Zahn


Lindsey is the founder and author of On Reserve: A Wine Law Blog. She is an alcohol beverage and food attorney and is admitted to the New York State Bar.

{ 9 comments… add one }
  • Paul Mabray September 27, 2010, 1:39 PM

    Let’s hope the POST act passes and that HR 5034 implodes on the hill. Great insight.

  • amit September 27, 2010, 2:34 PM

    this would be great as UPS and FEDEX have higher prices.

  • Lindsey A. Zahn September 27, 2010, 3:05 PM

    Thank you for your comments; and yes, let’s definitely hope, for the best interest of the wine industry, the POST Act passes into law and H.R. 5034 does not.

  • Fred Reed September 28, 2010, 9:43 AM

    Since the USPS is incapable of getting my magazines to me on time, I don’t think I would trust them with delivering perishable wines.

  • postmaster September 29, 2010, 10:06 AM

    The post office does NOT accept wine or beer into the mail stream. It is considered hazardous material because of the alcohol content. Why are you suggesting a bill will prevent the postal service from accepting shipments of wine or beer when we NEVER HAVE. It would change nothing.

  • Lindsey A. Zahn September 29, 2010, 2:46 PM

    Hi Postmaster,

    I am not suggesting that the federal postal system accepts shipments of wine or beer; the POST Act, if it passes into law, would allow for shipment or wine or beer through the federal postal system. Additionally, as indicated in the above blog entry, if both the POST Act and the CARE Act (H.R. 5034) are passed into law, only then could there be restrictions to the federal postal system with respect to shipping wine and/or beer. The POST Act, if passed into law, would change the current services offered by the federal postal system with respect to wine and beer. You can read the text of the bill at http://federalnewsradio.com/pdfs/PostAct2010.pdf (Specifically, Section 3(d)(2)(p)(1) ascribes that wine or malt beverages would be considered mailable).

  • Lauren Klaus Habsburg October 18, 2010, 12:13 PM

    I can think of no valid reason for the Federal Postal system not to ship beer or wine. Seriously, doesn’t the postal service want and need more business? Other shippers can profit in this business. The citizen consumer should be able to decide what to purchase and how is shipped to them as long as it is not a substance that is illegal to possess. The argument that under age people will get alcohol this way is also absurd. The expense of these shipments alone would be a deterrent. Kids can get alcohol from many other sources much faster, easier and cheaper and no laws have entirely prevented it.

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