Exclusive news and research on the wine, spirits and beer business

News Briefs for April 22, 2020

April 23, 2020

•The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed an earlier ruling against a Michigan law barring out-of-state drinks retailers from shipping to consumers in the state. The suit, filed by Indiana retailer Lebamoff Enterprises, owners of the Indiana chain Cap n’ Cork, challenged the Michigan law on Commerce Clause grounds, but the court cited a series of previous rulings to assert that allowing interstate retailer shipping “would create a sizeable hole in the three-tier system.” The ruling added, “Opening up the State to direct deliveries from out-of-state retailers necessarily means opening it up to alcohol that passes through out-of-state wholesalers or for that matter no wholesaler at all.” Supporters of state laws mandating a “physical presence” for alcohol licensees hailed the decision. However, an appeal on the part of Lebamoff would seem likely in light of the recent Supreme Court ruling that struck down a residency requirement for retailers in Tennessee.

•Following yesterday’s announcement of limited tariff relief for U.S. importers amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the U.S. Wine Trade Alliance has called for Congress to expand relief to companies affected by an enforcement action, including wine importers. The group points out that the narrow relief announced yesterday specifically excludes the Trump administration’s tariffs on European wines. In a statement, the U.S. Wine Trade Alliance said that pressure on Congress to take action will continue and that, currently, there is some support in Congress for relief from wine tariffs but that there is still opposition in the executive branch.

•Sirio Maccioni, the owner and ringmaster behind New York City’s legendary Le Cirque restaurant, has died in his hometown in Italy. He was 88 years old. According to his family, he suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and the lingering effects of a stroke. “I am Le Cirque,” Maccioni told Wine Spectator in 1995 when reflecting on the storied restaurant’s history. For Maccioni, the road to opening Le Cirque was a remarkable journey, an American and culinary dream. Wine Spectator has more on Maccioni’s life and career.

•Breakthru Beverage Group vice chairman Danny Wirtz has been named chairman of the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA). Wirtz replaces Sydney Ross of Great Lakes Wine & Spirits at the head of the trade group, and will serve in the role for one year. The WSWA is composed of 400 member companies that collectively distribute 80% of the wine and spirits sold in the U.S.

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