If you’ve ever tried to buy alcohol online, such as wine, you’ve probably run into the myriad of alcohol shipping laws that govern how much, if any at all, alcohol an individual can get shipped to their home. USA Today published a great recap in 2005 looking at each of the fifty states and how the laws governed direct shipments of alcohol from sellers to consumers. Wine Spectator has a more descriptive article on the subject, also from 2005, and the New York Times has one dated 2008.
Here is the listing for my fair state of Maryland:
Out-of-state wineries can purchase a permit to ship wines that are not available through an alcohol distributor in Maryland. The wine must be shipped to a licensed Maryland retailer.
So for me to receive wine from California, it has to first be sent to a liquor store!
What about New York, where I grew up?
In-state wineries may ship or deliver directly to consumers. In February, a federal appeals court upheld the state’s ban on direct shipping from out of state. The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to consider an appeal.
Finally, there’s Virginia…
After a court struck down Virginia’s ban on direct shipping, the state legislature rewrote the law. Out-of-state sellers with a wine shipper’s license now may ship up to two cases to a Virginia resident per month. Sellers must pay excise taxes.
… and the loosest local law, DC:
Direct shipments of up to one quart a month are allowed.
If you happen to live in a state with loose laws, consider yourself lucky!