Winebits 473: New Year wine legal affairs edition

wine legal affairsThis week’s wine news: We start 2017 with items from the almost Python-esque world of wine legal affairs

What’s in a name? Regular visitors here know how much the Wine Curmudgeon appreciates lawsuits about wine names, and there is another one – the small producer that makes a label called Six Degrees is suing the big producer that makes a label called 6°. To make the case more interesting, the small producer is family owned and the big producer is owned by members of the family that owns Bronco Wine, one of the biggest wine companies in the world. And there’s a great lawyer’s quote, too, hinting at blackmail. With a spectator sport like this, who needs football?

Only in Michigan: Utah is generally considered to have the most restrictive liquor laws in the country, but Michigan – home to the Granholm direct shipping case – is also a contender. That’s why this news, that the state is relaxing its notorious direct shipping requirements, is notable. The post is difficult to follow unless you practice wine law, but this analogy works: Previously, shipping wine into Michigan was the equivalent of wearing three pairs of socks when most of us only wear one pair. Now, it’s the equivalent of wearing two pairs of socks. Still unnecessary, but not as awkward.

Yes, but what about Utah? Not to be outdone by Michigan, a Utah legislator has proposed lowering the state’s legal alcohol limit to .05%, the lowest in the country – about the same as couple of of glasses of wine with dinner and which would make drunk drivers out of every social drinker in the state. The idea is not new, and it’s just as noxious now as it was then. As this well-reported story from the Las Angeles Times notes, drunk driving deaths in the U.S. have fallen by one-third over the past three decades. As Mothers Against Drunk Driving pointed out a couple of years ago, social drinkers aren’t the problem. It’s the repeat offender who drives drunk, even after arrests and license suspensions.

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