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 However, last year it was argued that, with the advent of e-commerce, these laws were no longer applicable.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 MillÃ©sima, are no longer restricted in the US by this legislature.
Last yearâ€™s ruling allowed some leeway for each state to implement the laws in an individual way. According to MillÃ©sima, 38 states have revoked the legislature, including New York, where the company will be based.
MillÃ©sima 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 MillÃ©sima 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