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Direct Wine Shipment almost law in Maryland

Apr 07, 2011 10:54PM ● Published by Anonymous

 

I've been following the process for a while now, but it's complicated. Kevin Atticks, the executive director of the Association of Maryland Wineries, agreed with me when I spoke to him about it on the phone yesterday. "The details will make your eyes bleed," he joked. It's been a long process, but he believes the process is about two steps away to becoming full law.

Essentially, there are two bills that have been written by both the House and the Senate. At this point, the Senate either needs to approve the House's bill or the House needs to approve the Senate's bill. The House bill was supposed to be voted on today by the full Senate, but there's always a chance it could get held. Monday is the final day of the Senate session, so if it's not voted on by then, we're out of luck. Atticks, however, feels optimistic that it will be passed.

What this legislation does is allow wineries to ship wine directly to Maryland consumers. 

"The first thing it means is that we now join 85 percent of the US population in having" the right to receive wine directly, Atticks says. Also, "Someone who enjoys a wine but can’t find it locally now can enjoy it at home."

What the bill DOESN'T do is allow retailers to ship wine, but "we understand that it will be seriously considered for next year," Atticks says. 

Even will the bill passes, there will be limitations and barriers. A Washington Post article published earlier this week lays out the rules, which say you can only purchase up to 18 cases annually to ship home (though the article calls the rule "ridiculously unenforceable.") Additionally, out-of-state wineries that want to ship to Maryland will have to post a $1,000 bond, pay a $200 annual fee, and file quarterly reports. These barriers could mean that some smaller wineries will choose not to ship to Maryland.

As for wine clubs, they're now allowed....kind of. You can join a wine-of-the-month club offered by one winery, but if you want to receive different types of wines—no such luck there. Maybe next year?

Check back soon to see if the bill passes.

 

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