New York State Liquor Authority Issues Rulings on “Three-Tier Compliant” Shipping Programs

On April 9, the New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) issued two important documents. The first was a declaratory ruling relating to companies selling to New York consumers for home delivery via a third-party website and utilizing wholesalers and retailers (commonly called a three-tier compliant DTC model). These programs, where an unlicensed third-party marketing firm interfaces with consumers as a part of the sales transaction, have been deemed by the SLA as violating New York law. It was determined by the SLA that the retailers in the models they examined did not demonstrate sufficient control of the sale.

The second document is an advisory intended to provide guidance to manufacturers, wholesalers and importers on labeling with respect to their ability to sell wines featuring the same brand, trade name and vintage with or without the addition of a sticker used to differentiate between two different Certificate of Label Approvals (COLA’s) for the same wine product. The two rulings should not have any impact on wineries selling directly to New York consumers via their own DTC shipping permit, or on their ability to use a compliance service in filing their required reports and taxes. However, if a winery is participating in any three-tier compliant DTC programs, it is important to understand the impact of these SLA actions.