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US Laws Change

A European fine-wine mail-order merchant will take advantage of recent changes to US legislation with regard to the three-tier system.

The middle of last year saw the conclusion of a court case in the US regarding laws governing direct shipping. The laws, which were set up post-Prohibition, required sales of alcohol to go via a licensed wholesaler. This was an attempt to discourage aggressive promotion and resultant excessive consumption. However, last year it was argued that, with the advent of e-commerce, these laws were no longer applicable.

When the rigid three-tier system was abandoned, a much wider market opened up for small wineries and retailers. Mail-order merchants that operate on a business-to-consumer basis, such as Millésima, are no longer restricted in the US by this legislature.

Last year’s ruling allowed some leeway for each state to implement the laws in an individual way. According to Millésima, 38 states have revoked the legislature, including New York, where the company will be based.

Millésima will begin trading in the US from this month. The company, which was founded in 1983, already has a presence in 11 European countries, including the UK. It will use direct marketing, as well as internet and print advertising, to reach its fine-wine customers. These are the same tools used for Europe, where Millésima is apparently the only Bordeaux-based merchant to sell fine wines by mail order, direct to consumers in the UK, Ireland and mainland Europe.

db May 2006

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