Amazon has launched an over the Internet wine sales operation, but don't get too excited yet, most states still don't allow shipping of alcohol to one's front door. The market, which opens today, will ship wines to the following states: California, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, Washington, Wyoming and the District of Columbia. Sorry, everywhere else. But for people living in those areas, Amazon will offer 1,000 wine choices and it will ship up to six bottles for $9.99 plus the price of those bottles.
Though certain states can maybe expect Amazon to expand shipments to their area, others will never-ever see shipments because of strict laws that prohibit wines being shipped from certain places and to certain other places. As you can see in that map to the right from the Wine Institute, the states in red prohibit the shipment of wine in some way or another. In Utah and Kentucky it is a felony, notes The Wall Street Journal's Greg Bensinger. People in Alabama need written permission if they want to get wine, otherwise it's illegal. But even in those blue states, there are some restrictions that might turn Amazon off from starting up business there. In West Virginia, for example, the winery has to get a letter of approval from its own state as well as West Virginia. Furthermore, advertising the shipment of wine to residents is illegal. However, there is some hope in other places.
States That Might See Wine from Amazon
New York. New York allows for wine shipments from 20 states. But it does not allow for wine and food to come in the same package.
Alaska, Florida, Idaho, New Hampshire. These states all allow wine shipments, but certain counties do not.
South Carolina, Texas, Arizona, Virginia, and New Mexico. These states all have limits on how much wine per year each person can receive ranging from 24 bottles per month, to 24 bottles per year. Amazon has a six bottle per purchase now. But maybe it could alter that for people coming from certain states. Wyoming has a limit of two cases per month, too. But Amazon for some reason worked it out with this state.
Louisiana. Wine buyers have to pay a sales tax and the shipper needs a permit.
Maryland. As of 2011, it was legal to ship wine here, with an approval permit.
Of course, all of this might prove to complicated to make it worth Amazon's while. It took Wine.com 10 years to turn cash positive, notes Bensinger, after getting fined by New York state for not following its rules and eventually going through bankruptcy. It might just make more sense to keep things simple.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.