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Wine Law Wrap-Up for the Week of March 18, 2013

Some very exciting wine law news emerged this week, including two stories that top the headlines of many leading publications. In the state of Massachusetts comes a story about direct shipment and a public figure. On the opposite end of the legal spectrum, we have a pending lawsuit brought by Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate against Antonio Galloni. This entry provides, in summary, the details of each.

Drew Bledsoe is advocating a change to the Massachusetts state law on direct shipment. The former New England Patriots quarterback currently operates a winery in Walla Walla, Washington. (See Why Is Dres Bledsoe Tweeting #freethegrapes?.) The current law in Massachusetts effectively bans direct shipment of wine from out-of-state wineries to Massachusetts consumers. Mr. Bledsoe lobbied yesterday in support of House Bill 294, which was introduced last month and is modeled after the direct shipping bill that is currently implemented in several states. His efforts ask the state of Massachusetts to allow residents within the state to have wine shipped to their homes directly from out-of-state wineries. “Bledsoe will make an appearance on Beacon Hill alongside State Representative Ted Speliotis, a democrat from Danvers who sponsored the bill that would uncork the current wine-ordering restrictions.” (Id.) The current state laws of Massachusetts clashes with the ruling from the renowned 2005 SCOTUS case Granholm v. Heald. (See The Shipping News; see also Musings on the Vine: Free the Grapes!.) The state’s law also conflicts with a 2010 ruling from the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals, which held the Massachusetts law to be unconstitutional. (See Massachusetts Direct Shipping Update, explaining that the 1st Circuit found the law to have “a discriminatory effect on interstate commerce because it favors instate interests by preventing direct shipments of nearly all out-of-state wine to Massachusetts consumers . . . .”). Despite this 2010 ruling, the state of Massachusetts has not implemented new legislation to better abide by the requirements stipulated in Granholm.

Finally, Decanter accounts the story of Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate lawsuit filed against Antonio Galloni, alleging fraud, defamation, and breach of contract. (See Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate Sues Antonio Galloni for Fraud and Defamation.) Mr. Galloni, who was employed by Wine Advocate to report on California wines, resigned in early 2013 shortly after Mr. Parker sold the his share to a group of Singaporean investors. Antonio did not deliver a review of Sonoma wines. Although Mr. Galloni was in the middle of completing the report, he explained that he would not be able to finish a comprehensive report of the region in time for Wine Advocate’s February issue. Subsequently, Wine Advocate filed a suit against Antonio Galloni, alleging fraud and breach of contract due to Mr. Galloni’s “intentional and unjustifiable withholding of tasting notes.” In addition, the suit claims Antonio schemed to travel the world, visiting wineries, at the expense of the Plaintiff. For a more detailed report, see Wine Advocate Uncorks Lawsuit at Writer.


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.

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