Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Drinking Direct Ship Wine? Raise a Glass to Juanita Swedenburg

If you are now able to drink a wine that came directly to you from the winery--and you weren't able to do that before 2005--you have Juanita Swedenburg to thank for it, at least in part. On June 9, octogenarian Juanita Swedenburg, who took on inter-state wine shipping regulations and took her fight all the way to the Supreme Court, died at her home in Middleburg, VA. (photo by Don Wilson of the Institute for Justice)

This card-carrying member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and former Foreign Service Officer took on the big guns of interstate shipping and made the quiet, convincing argument that the wine that she and her husband, Wayne, made at their historic Virginia farm was no different from any other agricultural product. She could sell her hay in another state, why not her wine? Wasn't it un-Constitutional to restrict her access to free trade?

The Supreme Court agreed with her and her fellow petitioners, and handed down a decision on May 16, 2005 that a state could not set up different restrictions for wineries that were in-state, and those that were out-of-state. It was the first major blow against direct shipping restrictions, and one that continues to be fought by Free the Grapes and other organizations and winery coalitions. Sadly, her business- and life-partner Wayne had died one year earlier, and did not survive to see their victory.

The Swedenburg family has established an fund at the Virginia Wine Growers Association to promote education and the Virginia wine industry. If you'd like to make a contribution in Juanita's honor, send it to the Juanita Swedenburg Memorial Education Fund, c/o VWGA, P.O. Box 10045, Alexandria, VA 22310.


Unknown said...

What a great post, Deb. Thanks for educating me about someone who scored a big victory for all wine lovers. Let's hope there are many who carry on the fight against the unfair regulation of wine commerce.

I'll drink a toast to her tonight.

Dr. Debs said...

Thanks John. I'd never heard of her, either, but I loved her philosophy regarding "agricultural products." A great lady!