Free the Grapes is a website dedicated to bringing direct shipping of wine to consumers in all states. They’ve declared this month Grape Liberation Month in honor of the May 16, 2005, Supreme Court ruling on Granholm v. Heald that changed the laws for wine shipping and led to changes in direct-to-consumer shipping in many states.

Since that date, the number of states that allow direct shipping has gone from 27 to 37, and Free the Grapes is dedicated to seeing that number increase. This Sunday, on May 16, Free the Grapes is asking wine lovers to toast grape liberation with the following official toast.

In 2005, we were on the brink
Of being told what wine we couldn’t drink.
But when the Supremes voted 5, we stood tall
Since grape liberation is good for us all.


To the winery who makes the wine
To the grape grower who walks the vine
To every wine lover from coast to coast
We raise our glass to Free the Grapes and toast!

You may want to know why I’m telling you about a wine shipping movement. Wouldn’t it be better if I encouraged you just to support your small, local winery? Isn’t that more eco-friendly than shipping wine all over the country?

Direct-to-consumer wine shipping is important to your small, local winery. Take here in New Jersey for example. A bill has been passed in the state Senate supporting direct shipping to consumers and is waiting to be heard in the state assembly. Right now, my New Jersey wineries cannot ship to my home. If I want to get a bottle of wine from a winery an hour away, I have two choices. Drive to the winery or wait for a wine festival that winery is attending and stock up. Some local liquor stores carry a limited selection of local wines, but the closest one to me that carries bottles I like is a half-hour drive.

If New Jersey’s grapes are freed, I’d be able to have the wineries ship directly to me. They could ship to anyone in the state or out of state. This would open up the entire country to the fabulous wines that many of my state's wineries are producing and allow them to expand their customer base.

This isn't just a New Jersey, cause, though. If you remember back in January, I had the opportunity to visit a couple of wineries in D.C.’s wine country. The wines that I brought back from my visit are long gone, and at the moment, I can’t have them shipped to my home. Opening up direct shipping in my state would mean that I could support small wineries in other states that are producing good, sustainable wines.

Wine consumers in all states should have the opportunity to support local, sustainable wineries in any state by having the wine shipped directly to their homes, and the wineries should have the freedom to get their wines to those who love them. It’s time to free the grapes.

I wrote about the New Jersey bill in more detail on my South Jersey Locavore blog, and if you are a New Jersey resident, I encourage you to head over there and to Free the Grapes to see how you can support this bill.  

Also on MNN: Grape-loving moths invade California wine country

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

It's Grape Liberation Month
Raise your wine glass for continued freedom of the grapes