February 2010                               


                                                      Wines of the month - Paul DeRose

Direct Wine Shipping – It’s Time Has Come, Maybe

Sharon Rooney and her husband Scott stopped at a small winery in Sonoma, CA. They had never heard of the winery before, but were soon drawn in by the hospitality of the proprietors. They were even more delighted by the outstanding wines they tried in the casual tasting room and were informed that they could have their favorites shipped home. They were then asked where they lived. When they responded New Jersey, the owner regretfully told them that they could not ship to that state. This all too common scenario plays out again and again, everyday, in wineries throughout the country, preventing them from doing business and consumers from getting the wines they want. But many states have opened their borders to direct shipping in recent years. There are 17 states, including Maryland, that have resisted this trend by continuing to prohibit the shipping of wine and beer to consumers. Here in Maryland it’s a felony, right up there with kidnapping and murder. Kentucky and Utah are the only other states that share this distinction with us. In contrast, both Virginia and the District allow direct shipping.

But all of this may soon change. A bill is now being presented to the MD state legislature to allow any winery or retailer, in or out of state, to ship wine to any adult MD resident. Such purchases would include the 6% state sales tax and an adult signature would be required upon delivery.

This bill has actually been floating around Annapolis for several years now. In the past, the bill was scuttled in committee, never being allowed to reach the floor for a vote, in spite of strong public support. Hopes are high that the bill will finally come up for a vote this session, in which case it is likely to pass. The atmosphere for change has been created by advocates of direct shipping, such as Marylanders for Better Beer and Wine Laws (MBBWL), who have only recently gained enough of a voice to challenge the special interests who profit from the status quo. This law would not only benefit Maryland consumers, but also Maryland wineries. In addition, it may open the door for other related initiatives, such as allowing bring your own bottle (BYOB) policies at restaurants.

If you want to take part in the process, please email, write or phone your state representatives, or check out this link