On June 30th, Ohio Governor Ted Strickland signed the fiscal year 2008-09 budget bill. Similar to the current legislative maneuvering in Wisconsin, this was an unusual development to see wine shipping provisions inserted into a state budget bill. As we reported earlier, the law changes Ohio’s court ordered open status for shipping wines to a limited/direct permit shipping state.
This bill presents a number of issues. First, the capacity cap restricts wineries that produce more than 150,000 gallons (roughly 63,000 cases) annually from receiving a permit. Additionally, the following sentence in the bill has everyone scratching their heads.
Sec. 4303.233. No family household shall purchase more than twenty-four cases of nine-liter bottles of wine in one year.
What exactly does “family household” mean? Did they really mean to say “nine-liter bottles”? I don’t think that any family in Ohio would ever really purchase twenty-four Salmanazars in one year, but how would one convert that into standard 750 mL bottles? Is this a Massachusetts/Indiana-style volume limit where the limit applies to the household across all wineries? If so, how could a winery in California possibly know how much volume has shipped to their Ohio customers from other wineries across the country? Finally, does one year mean one calendar year or any rolling 365 day period? Hopefully Ohio will answer all of these questions very clearly. If they don’t, most will likely choose not to ship to Ohio given the uncertainty around shipping the 25th “case”.
The new law is set to take effect 90 days after being signed, in this case September 28th, but the Division of Liquor Control may push this to October 1st. Stay tuned for more information once Ohio promulgates or clarifies these rules.