After years of lobbying, confusion and legal wrangling, Illinois has approved direct-to-consumer wine shipments from both out-of-state and local wineries.
Beginning on June 1, wineries holding an Illinois Winery Shipper’s License may ship up to 12 cases of wine annually to adult residents.
Another important aspect of the act, signed last week by Governor Rod R. Blagojevich, permits wineries producing under 25,000 gallons per year to self-distribute up to 5,000 gallons annually directly to Illinois retailers. This includes both in-state and out-of-state wineries that have a Wine Shipper’s License, according to Katie Ridgway, communications manager of the Illinois Department of Revenue.
The Winery Shipper’s License uses a sliding fee scale based on production, from $150 to $1,000 for both Illinois and out-of-state wineries. The license must be renewed annually, at the same cost.
Since each licensed shipper is limited to 12 cases per customer per year, licensees will be required to report shipments to state tax authorities on a monthly basis, Ridgway told Wines & Vines. Case limits will be monitored through ILCC compliance agents.
The legislation still was considered a victory for the big and powerful wine distributors, because wine brokers are prohibited from soliciting direct shipments.
The ILCC release stated, “Holders of a State of Illinois Retailer’s Liquor License will continue to be allowed to ship to Illinois residents over the Internet; however, they may not be allowed to ship to other states. Out-of-state retailers are prohibited from shipping… directly to Illinois consumers through the Internet.”
In other words, Illinois residents will be denied the opportunity to discover a wide array of wines from other states and around the world – the types of wines in which Internet retailers specialize.