On June 22, 2016, Louisiana Governor Edwards signed legislation (HB 667) into law which will allow wineries holding a Direct Wine Shipper permit to ship wine directly to consumers (DtC) in Louisiana, without requiring the consumer to visit the winery—as long as the wine has not been assigned to a Louisiana wholesaler. The newly-signed law removes the existing restriction that prohibited any winery with a direct or indirect agreement with a licensed wholesaler in Louisiana from making any off-site DtC sales, a relatively new policy reported on in March. The legislation does not change rules for on-site DtC sales, though. The new rule will greatly expand Louisiana consumers’ choice in wines.
The legislation also replaces the current Louisiana Alcohol Tobacco Control (ATC) direct shipper registration process with a requirement to obtain a Direct Wine Shipper permit. The ATC direct shipper permit fee for out-of-state wineries is $250, and for out-of-state retailers, $1000; these permits must be renewed annually. These new permit fees will provide funds for greater enforcement from ATC.
Out-of-state wineries must continue to register with the Louisiana Department of Revenue (LDR) and pay the annual $150 registration fee. The annual LDR registration fee for out-of-state retailers is reduced from $1,500 to $1,000.
Direct shippers are required to pay sales and excise taxes on direct shipments made to consumers in Louisiana. They must also report to the LDR on wine shipments they’ve made. However, the new legislation changes the reporting and payment period from every quarter to every month.
In addition, wineries holding direct shipper permits will now be required to register labels of products for off-site DTC sales with ATC. Louisiana requires labels to registered online. The fee for label registration is $5 per label. Label registrations are valid for one calendar year before they must be renewed.
The law becomes effective on July 1, 2016, however, the new permits will not be available quite so soon. Wine Institute and ShipCompliant will publish the rules for obtaining an ATC permit and registering labels for off-site DTC on the Wine Institute website and ShipCompliant Blog when developed.