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New Zealand’s wine industry is world-famous, and for a good reason. If you own a vineyard, selling your fine wine online can be an excellent way to sell directly to your customers across the country. You can also reach a new market in geographical areas that you could not potentially reach before. However, if you want to go down this route, you need to comply with the law’s requirements to sell alcohol online. Otherwise, you can face fines and losing your liquor licence. Therefore, this article will explain the process around selling your vineyard’s wine online.

Alcohol Licensing in New Zealand

If you want to sell alcohol in New Zealand, you need to have a valid licence. What kind of licence you need will depend on:

  • where you are selling alcohol;
  • where your customers will consume alcohol; and 
  • how long you want the licence for.

The table below sets out the four kinds of licences in New Zealand.

On-Licence

For selling alcohol that customers will drink on the premises. Suitable for bars or restaurants.

Off-Licence

For selling alcohol that customers drink off-premises. Suitable for bottle stores.

Club Licence

For regularly selling alcohol to club members. Suitable for RSA clubs and similar groups.

Special Licence

For selling alcohol at a one-off event, such as a wedding.

Your vineyard will likely need an off-licence to sell to your customers unless you want customers to drink alcohol on the premises. Notably, if you have a store or cellar you sell from on your vineyard, you can allow customers free samples of your wine to consume if you have an off-licence.

Selling Alcohol Online

If you have an off-licence, then you can sell alcohol online. You classify as a “remote seller”, which means you sell and deliver your wine to a person who is not at your vineyard via:

  • the internet;
  • telephone; or
  • mail catalogue.

If you just sell wine from your website and not in-person from your vineyard, then you need to apply for a special endorsement to do so when you get your licence. Once you have this endorsement, you do not need to comply with the signage requirements that a physical store does.

However, this does not apply if you sell wine from your vineyard store and your website. In addition, you need to comply with all of the other usual requirements for an off-licence, such as signage restrictions and employees on duty. Check your local council’s website for their resources on how to apply for the kind of off-licence you need.

Tip: If you want to sell your wine overseas, there will be additional customs regulations you need to meet as well.

Website Requirements

Before selling your wine online, you need to make sure you comply with the law’s requirements for this practice. For one thing, you should make sure you have three critical documents on your site, which are:

Tip: When you collect your customers’ personal information, such as delivery addresses and financial details, you need to comply with privacy law.

Additionally, you have to make sure you display the following information in a prominent place on your website, as well as on your receipts:

  • your name as the licence holder;
  • your licence number; and
  • the licence expiry date.

Following that, your website needs to have a clear image of your licence (or a link to it) for your customers to confirm. 

Selling to Minors

Like a physical premises, you cannot sell any alcohol to people under 18. Therefore, you need to take reasonable steps to confirm the age of anyone you sell alcohol to over the internet. You should have a:

  • tickbox when a customer enters your website confirming they are over 18; and
  • secondary tickbox when they complete a purchase confirming their age.

These measures are compulsory. However, you may also choose to ask your couriers to verify a recipient’s age with ID when delivering packages. 

Advertising Alcohol

Alcohol advertising has strict regulations, and you need to take heed of them whether you are selling online or in person. As a result, you cannot promote or advertise discounts on your alcohol that are more than 25% off the original price. Additionally, you cannot promote free alcohol, including deals offering buy two get one free or similar. Furthermore, your advertising should not promote excessive drinking or target minors with its branding.

Delivery Requirements

Selling from your online store, the timing of your wine sales can happen at any point in a day. However, there are time limits on when your couriers can deliver your wine. According to your licence, you cannot deliver wine any time:

  • between 11 pm and 6 am;
  • on Good Friday or Christmas Day;
  • before 1 pm on Anzac Day; or
  • your local council rules specify.

Remote sellers also usually cannot deliver alcohol on Easter Sunday. However, there is an exception for your premises when you sell grape, fruit, or vegetable wine made from the produce you grow in your vineyard.

Key Takeaways

When you own a vineyard, you can sell your wine online to reach customers new and old through new wine eCommerce avenues. First, however, you need to make sure you have an off-licence and comply with its requirements. If you would like more information or help to sell your wine online, contact LegalVision’s eCommerce lawyers on 0800 005 570 or fill out the form on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I sell wine online?

You can sell wine online from an online store if you have a corresponding off-licence. Additionally, you must include reasonable measures to avoid selling to minors

What kind of liquor licence do I need?

The kind of liquor licence you need will depend on where you want to sell alcohol, how long for, and where customers will be drinking the alcohol. Check your local council’s website for information relevant to your area.

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