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Ask MPR Mailbag

September 05, 2006

Did the law change about buying wine online?

Did Minnesota ever change the law regarding being able to buy wine online? I would love to be able to order my favorite California wines and have them shipped but none of the sites I visit will ship to Minnesota. I had heard the law had changed. Am I wrong? Thanks a lot!

Little Canada, MN

Dear Pam, I spoke with the good folks at Minnesota Department of Public Safety's Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division about this issue.

It's always been legal to purchase up to two cases of wine per year from a winery outside the state of Minnesota by ordering it over the phone. And it has also been legal to purchase online from Minnesota-based wineries. But Minnesota statute 304a.417 made it illegal to make an online purchase of wine from a winery outside the state of Minnesota.

Many wineries across the country were unhappy with the statute, and eventually a lawsuit -- known in legal circles as Crockett v. Campion -- was filed against the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. The suit was resolved in in Federal court, in a consent order dated April 3, 2006.

Essentially, all parties agreed that the restriction on online wine sales was unconstitutional, and that the statute that banned Minnesotans from purchasing wine from wineries online was effectively struck down.

This means that you can now make an online purchase of up two cases of wine per year from any winery anywhere in the country.

From your email it wasn't clear if you were trying to purchase wine from a winery or from a liquor retailer. Remember, it's only legal to make an online wine purchase from a winery.

If you were trying to place an order with a winery, it is possible that the winery in question is not aware that the Minnesota law has been struck down. You may wish to refer them to the consent agreement, which you can find here:

Minnesota Lifts Ban on Internet Wine Sales and Advertisements

We hope this information helps. Thanks again for writing, and for listening to MPR.

Michael Popham
Minnesota Public Radio Member Listener Services