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KBTX | Bryan & College Station, TX | News, Weather, Sports

Wine Wars

By: Amanda Humes
By: Amanda Humes

You can find and buy virtually anything online these days. The Internet has made shopping easy for millions of consumers who forgo brick and mortar and chose cyberspace for shopping.

One thing that isn't available online, or by phone for direct shipment out of state is wine. Now the Supreme Court will decide if wine companies should be allowed to sell and ship their products directly to consumers.

It's what Messina Hof owner Paul Bonarrigo hopes will happen.

"Almost all Texas wines, 95 percent, sell within the state of Texas, so by being allowed to ship out of state would increase the reputation of Texas wines," said Bonarrigo.

It's against the law in 24 states, including Texas, for wineries to ship directly to consumers. Bonariggo says he receives about 50 calls a week from out of state customers wanting to purchase his wine, but most of the time he can't ship it, causing a potential loss of thousands of dollars in sales.

Local liquor store owner J.J. Ruffino doesn't mind the limitations placed on Texas wineries. He stands to lose money if consumers choose to shop online, or contact the winery directly, rather than spend their dollars in his business.

"There's the issue of collecting sales tax in the state of Texas and whether or not that product can end up in the hands of someone that was not of legal age," said Ruffino.

The Supreme Court will hear arguments over the commerce claus, which ensures the free flow of business among the states. But the 21st Amendment gives power to the states over the sale, importation, and distributions of alcoholic beverages.

Many people believe buying direct can save money, but sometimes shipping costs can eat away at the savings. But small winery owners like Paul Bonarrigo are hoping for more uniformed shipping laws in all 50 states.


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