Law and Online Orders

Remember Virtual Vineyards? The company was an early dot-com success story that showed how offering information to consumers could increase sales. After securing substantial venture capital, the precursor to faced some challenges involving litigation on the part of wholesalers, based on interstate shipping and licensing laws.

Yesterday, some of those legal roadblocks fell away as the Supreme Court determined that New York and Michigan laws should not keep out-of-state wineries from selling direct to consumers. Some people contend that, while the change will help wineries — particularly out-of-state wineries — it will hurt distributors.

The laws have been on the books since the days of Prohibition, but this raises interesting questions. Are the days of wine and roses back for businesses? And how can we protect and promote local businesses without limiting the options offered to local customers?