After visiting a winery in Georgia over Valentines weekend (2014) and checking on shipments to Alabama, it appears that many wineries still do not know that it is legal to ship wine to Alabama, they just have to send it to a State Store of the customer's choosing instead of the customer's residence. When I have visited wineries and mentioned that they can ship the orders with just the addition of one extra page of information, they have always been most receptive and shipping is no longer an issue. Below is some information that I hope will be useful to both the Chapter Members and representatives of wineries that are interested in shipping wine to Alabama for personal use.
First the facts:
In early 2005, the Alabama ABC board revised its regulations and procedures to allow for the direct import of alcoholic beverages to residents of Alabama after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states could not discriminate against out-of-state wineries that wanted to ship wine directly to consumers. Originally, in Alabama, a form had to be faxed from the Montgomery office of the ABC Board to the consumer who would then forward this to the winery. This quickly became so cumbersome for the state that they eventually made the form available online for the consumer to fill out. The form is for table wine (wine with alcohol content of 24 % or less). To purchase other alcohol that is not available inside Alabama, the consumer will need to visit a State Store and have them order it.
Ala. Code §28-1-4 (b) It shall be unlawful for common or permit carriers, operators of trucks, buses or other conveyances or out-of-state manufacturers or suppliers to make delivery of any alcoholic beverage from without the state of Alabama to any person, association or corporation within the state, except to the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board and to manufacturers, importers, wholesalers and warehouses licensed by the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board to receive the alcoholic beverages so delivered.
The key phrase to note is that this prohibits direct shipments to individuals but does allow for shipping of wine to Alabama if it is consigned, with freight charges prepaid, directly to the individual in care of an ABC Store where the individual can pick it up.
Taxes: Section 38-7-16 of the 1975 Code of Alabama states that the tax on one liter of wine containing 16.5% alcohol or less is $0.45 and for wines greater than 16.5%, the tax is $2.42 per liter. So for a typical case of 750ml bottles, you are looking at not much more than $3. In general, expect about 27 cents per bottle regardless of size (375ml, 750ml, or 1 liter).
NOTE: All taxes are paid by the customer when they pick up their wine, not by the winery.
What a customer should provide to the winery representative
Here are a few things a consumer can do before they order any wine online or visit a winery and ask them to ship to Alabama:
- Download the latest copy of the Direct Import Authorization form the ABC Board Website and have it ready to hand or email to the winery. The state changes the form every few years, so if you have not checked to see if you have the latest form, please do so before ordering.
- Always check the ABC Board Website for the latest list of State Store supervisors and shipping addresses.
- If visiting the winery, provide them with two copies of the form. One for inside the case and another to put with the shipping label.
- Write down the link to this website and have it ready for the winery. If they have any questions, hopefully this webpage will have enough information to help them feel comfortable about sending wine to Alabama
- When the ABC Store gives you a call, try and pick up your wine as soon as possible. Depending on the time of year, the ABC Store may have limited space to hold your wine. If you are traveling and will not be home before the wine arrives, ask the winery to delay shipping so that it will arrive after you return home.
- Order, drink, repeat :-)
Tips for the winery in shipping
- Place a customer supplied Direct Import Authorization form in the shipping/packing pocket if possible as well as inside each case of wine.
- If space allows on the ship label, include the customer name and then the State Store supervisor and address such as:
ABC Supervisor John Smith
ABC Store # 1234
Huntsville, Alabama 35801
- Mention this page to other wineries in your area and add Alabama to your tasting room (and website) list of states that you ship wine to.
Broken website links
Hunting down all of the information on shipping wine to Alabama on the various state websites can be difficult. Maintaining the links to those documents is also challenging at times. It seems that every year or two, the websites are updated without maintaining link integrity. If one of the links above is not correct, please send me email.
I've found the most useful way to track this down legal information (in the case you are a winery and want to verify that you can ship to Alabama) is to enter the following term in a Google Search: Code of alabama personal import of alchohol That should provide quite a few selections to choose from. If you are wanting to purchase wine and need the import form or a list of ABC Store supervisors and shipping address, visit the ABC Board Website and look for the Online Services menu tab. There should be an entry labeled something like Direct Import Authorization. Also, the FAQ section (currently on the left side of the ABC Board website) has as it's first question How can I order a product that is not carried in the ABC Stores. The first paragraph addresses what local wine & liquor stores should do, the second addresses what an individual can do and will have a link to the Direct Import Authorization form. To locate a currently list of Stores Supervisors, the main menu should have a Stores tab with a entry in its drop down menu titled Phone List.
If you have any comments or corrections, please send me email and I will try and address them the best I can. Keeping this webpage up to date and accurate is in the interest to both wine lovers in Alabama and the fine wineries we wish to purchase from.