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Ohio opened to out-of-state wine shipments

A federal judge has, for the moment, opened Ohio to shipping from out-of-state wineries.

Residents can now obtain as much out-of-state wine as they want if they pay the appropriate taxes.

On Tuesday, Judge George Smith said that long-standing Ohio laws and regulations that confined yearly out-of-state wine shipments to 15 gallons per family were unconstitutional.

Ohio, with 100 producers, is America’s fifth-largest wine-producing state. When its legislature reconvenes in the fall, it could enact a law that, containing newly formulated language reflecting a Supreme Court ruling, approves or bans shipping in its entirety.

Smith’s decision was prompted by the US Supreme Court’s ruling in May that states that permit their own wineries to ship inside the state must grant outsiders the same privilege or must ban both methods of shipment.

Meanwhile, pressure has begun in New Jersey, which has 27 wineries, to lift that small eastern state’s total ban on shipments.

‘Prohibition against direct sales cannot be justified,’ said The Star-Ledger of Newark, the region’s most powerful newspaper. ‘Legislature ought to take another look and come to a different conclusion.’

The daily observed that New Jersey’s residents ‘drink enough wine to be fifth in the nation in consumption.’

Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco signed a law that blocks that southern state’s seven wineries from shipping wine to retailers and restaurateurs. Only wholesalers can now supply local and out-of-state wines to these buyers.

The Louisiana Winery Association has asked Blanco to veto the bill. New Orleans restaurants make the city an international culinary destination.

New York and Connecticut have both passed new laws opening all shipping since the Supreme Court’s decision was handed down.

Written by Howard G. Goldberg in New York

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