May 16 was the Tenth Anniversary of Granholm vs. Heald and it was a wonderful decision for all wine lovers in the states of Michigan and New York. The case was argued in the United States Supreme Court on December 7, 2004 and decided on May 16, 2005. Eleanor Heald and her husband were wine collectors and they also had a syndicated wine column that was carried in some of the local Michigan newspapers. Jennifer Granholm was at the time Governor of the State of Michigan and she was part of the political machine from Wayne County.
What was going on in Michigan was that the wine distributing industry was curtailing the rights of individuals to secure wines for their personal consumption. If the distributors did not carry a wine brand, then the wine could not legally enter the state, and it is a very strong political lobby to this day. The state had granted allowances to Michigan wineries to be able to ship their product directly to consumers, because they were trying to build up the fledgling wine industry in the state, but they denied outside wineries from the same competition.
Michigan was regarded as a “Felony” state to wineries and they would not even attempt to ship wine to Michigan. I remember the old days, and how a winery owner explained to me, how to have wine shipped home. The winery could sell me wine, but they could not ship the wine. Once I had bought the wine, it was my own personal property and after it had left the grounds of the winery, the winery had no further interest in the product. I could then legally take the wine to third party independent shipper, one that handled and expedited wine shipments and I could have my property shipped back to myself after purchasing special shipping cartons for the conveyance of all the bottled liquids. I also took the further precaution of having them shipped to my place of business, had the packages marked as olive oil and then to ensure that an adult could sign for the shipment, if I was not there. Even then it felt only-quasi legal and that I was in effect skirting the law, which big political machines have been doing on the sly for years.
Since this case has been decided, I can now receive wine shipments at home, and basically all I really get is wine from my wine club, but I am glad that it is has become legal in Michigan. Some states are still considered “Felony” states because of the wording of the laws in those states. I still have to sign for a wine delivery, which is fine, one has to be an adult (Age of Majority) to buy wine, so having an adult sign for wine is understandable and totally acceptable. The good news is that the special wine crates are reusable and can be shipped empty ahead of time to where ever I plan on staying, to be filled up again, for another shipment home. The other good news is that just like this bad law is no longer in effect; neither is Jennifer Granholm the Governor of the State of Michigan.