Nearly 160,000 bottles of wine illegally shipped into Michigan during first quarter of 2020


A person holds a glass of wine. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — During the first quarter of 2020, more than one-third of every bottle of alcohol was shipped illegally into Michigan, according to data compiled by the Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association (MB&WWA).

Using data reports from the Michigan Liquor Control Commission and excise tax data from the state of Michigan, the MB&WWA found 410,304 bottles of wine were shipped into the state from January through March of 2020. Of those bottles, 159,152 were shipped illegally from unlicensed, out-of-state retailers.

The MB&WWA began investigating and filing data on illegal wine shipments coming into Michigan in 2018.

In 2019, data collection shows that 734,365 bottles of wine were shipped illegally into Michigan. In 2020, 159,152 were shipped illegally. The MB&WWA is still tailing 2021 numbers.

“While illegal wine shipping remains a pervasive problem in Michigan, the numbers are beginning to go down thanks to efforts from the Michigan Liquor Control Commission and Attorney General Dana Nessel to crack down on the bad actors who are thumbing their nose at Michigan law. We urge the MLCC and attorney general to not let up and continue to target illegal wine shippers who are flouting state laws and hurting small, mom-and-pop retailers in the process.”

Spencer Nevins, president of the MB&WWA.

In the past two years, Nessel has sued more than a half-dozen out-of-state retailers caught shipping wine illegally into Michigan. Because of this, tens of thousands of dollars in fines and have made a bold statement that illegal wine shipping is not allowed. It has projected the message that there will be consequences for those breaking the law.

The MLCC has also informed out-of-state retailers several times that they are never allowed to ship wine into Michigan; and that wineries must be licensed before they are allowed to ship legally into Michigan.

“Every bottle of alcohol illegally shipped into our state hurts small, independent retailers that are proud to call Michigan home, pay taxes and give back to their communities,” Nevins said.

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