For Immediate Release June 26, 2019

National Association of Wine Retailers’ Comment on Historic Tennessee Wine v. Thomas Supreme Court Decision

The National Association of Wine Retailers Executive Director Tom Wark released the following statement today concerning the Supreme Court’s decision in Tennessee Wine v. Thomas:

Today the Supreme Court confirmed that state alcohol laws that discriminate against out-of-state retailers for the purposes of protecting in-state interests are unconstitutional and not protected by the Twenty-First Amendment. The decision is a historic win for both free trade and wine consumers across the country.

Most important is the Court’s decision that the non-discrimination principles laid out in the Supreme Court’s 2005 Granholm v. Heald decision overturning bans on winery shipping also apply to retailers. This determination by the Court is in direct contradiction to claims by alcohol wholesalers and retailers, courts and other commentators that states may discriminate against out-of-state retailers. Today the Court said they may not.

With this decision, the effort to modernize and bring fairness to the distribution and wine shipping laws of the states begins in earnest. While we expect the opponents of free trade and supporters of protectionism to fight this evolution in the American marketplace, we are equally confident that this Supreme Court decision will lead to greater access to the hundreds of thousands of wines many consumers do not currently have access to due to protectionist wine shipping laws. 

The National Association of Wine Retailers submitted an important Amicus Brief in this case and is grateful its arguments were largely adopted by the Supreme Court. Today, the National Association of Wine Retailers begins the work of persuading states to change their retailer wine shipping laws so they come into compliance with the non-discrimination and anti-protectionist principles laid out in today’s important decision.

The National Association of Wine Retailers represents wine retailers across the country and works to modernize state laws through lobbying, litigation and education. For more information see