Private Collection Wine Sales Safe. . . For Now

Last fall, the New York State Liquor Authority (“NYSLA”) caused a stir in the fine wine market when it proposed to limit the sale of private collection wines. In a draft advisory intended “to provide guidance to manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers of wine or liquor with respect to proper purchase and sale of private collection wines and liquors,” NYSLA set forth a narrow and perplexing definition of “private collection wine.” This definition would have reduced the amount of wine that could be sold without a license. Now, the Authority has backed away from its plan to rein in these transactions.

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NYSLA Proposes Narrow Definition of "Private Collection" Wines

In a new draft advisory, the New York State Liquor Authority (“NYSLA”) has proposed a narrow definition of “private collection” that would reduce the amount of wine that can be sold in New York by non-licensed sellers. The purpose of the advisory is to provide guidance on the “proper purchase and sale of private collection wines and liquors,” but the advisory would have the practical effect of reducing the amount of private collection wine available to consumers. Some fine dining establishments with coveted wine lists rely on private collection sales to obtain hard-to-find wines. For this reason, some in the hospitality industry are predicting Doomsday for the wine lists of New York City’s high-end restaurants.

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Liquor License Wars

When I tell people about my blog, they usually ask me how wine and law are related. "How connected are they really?" "Aren't you limiting yourself?" "Will you have enough to write about?" One answer is that in a densely populated city like New York, alcohol laws are at work right under our noses—or, more likely, right under our apartments. Every New York establishment that sells alcoholic beverages, whether for consumption on the premises or elsewhere, must obtain a liquor license from the New York State Liquor Authority (NYSLA) pursuant to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law ("ABC Law").

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