For decades, winemakers have been legally allowed to ship bottles of wine directly to customers via private shipping companies. This has enabled vineyards from Napa to the Finger Lakes to sign up tourists for lucrative mail-order clubs and send bottles purchased on-site directly to the customer’s home. It has also generated revenue for the carriers without any notable problems. Despite this proof of concept, the struggling U.S. Postal Service is forbidden by Congress to accept alcohol shipments of any kind. But that may soon change.
Congress is giving alcohol shipping a fresh look in light of the USPS’ ongoing revenue struggles, as well as the growing popularity of shipping and delivery of everyday household goods. Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier of California, Republican Rep. Dan Newhouse of Washington and Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon have introduced the USPS Shipping Equity Act, which would allow the Postal Service to mail beverage alcohol products directly from licensed producers – including distilleries, breweries, wineries and cideries – to legal-drinking-age consumers in states that allow direct-to-consumer alcohol shipping.