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Posted at 11:27 AM ET, 01/31/2011

Wine shipment bill has support from majority of Maryland lawmakers

By Ann E. Marimow

Maryland wine lovers may soon rejoice. Legislation that would allow state residents to order bottles of their favorite pinot noir and chardonnay directly to their homes this year has broad bipartisan support from a majority of lawmakers, including some powerful names, in the House and Senate.

Maryland would join 37 other states and the District in allowing direct wine shipment from vineyards. The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery) and Del. Jolene Ivey (D-Prince George's), has the backing of 32 of 47 senators and 83 of 141 delegates. Among the co-sponsors are House Speaker Michael Busch and Del. Dereck Davis (D-Prince George's), who chairs the Economic Matters Committee.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Jamie Raskin.jpg But a key component of the bill will likely face stiff opposition from the powerful alcohol industry. As written, the measure would allow consumers to buy wine directly from out-of-state retailers.

Anticipating such opposition, Davis said last week, "I'm going to do what I can to forge a consensus." A compromise bill, for instance, could allow direct shipment from wineries - but not from out-of-state retailers.

A report issued by Comptroller Peter Franchot in December looked at the practice in other states and found that direct shipment from out-of-state retailers "would have a negative effect on 'in-state licensees,' because purchases from retailers are primarily motivated by 'price.'"

By Ann E. Marimow  | January 31, 2011; 11:27 AM ET
Categories:  Ann Marimow, General Assembly  
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Comments

is mike miller going to cave in to his family's business and big $$ lobbyists? GO JAIME GO!!!! G__D Bless you as you undergo cancer treatment.

Posted by: agwilson1399 | January 31, 2011 6:55 PM | Report abuse

Finally. Most buyers of wine from out of state are not motivated by price. Generally, with the cost of shipping added to the retail price the total cost is roughly the same. The first motivation is the ease of electronic commerce. Instead of going to a licensed liquor store, one can shop on line. The second motivation is the availability of wines from growers and wineries that have not been noticed by Maryland wholesellers or who are not represented by brokers who sell to Maryland wholesellers. People travel and encounter interesting wines from interesting wineries. Because of Maryland's licensed distribution system those wineries are prohibited from shipping product to Maryland even if the purchace takes place in the "other" state.

That said, if there is a fear of loosing business because of price competition shouldn't we all ask why the state has a licensed distribution system in place that causes economic harm to its own citizens? Who does the General Assembly represent; a handful of businesses who are overcharging Maryland consumers or the residents of the state? If the answer is businesses, then the General Assembly needs to amend the constitution to provide for recall elections. This legislation is a real no brainer for those without a conflict of interest.

Posted by: ralphgrutzmacher | January 31, 2011 9:27 PM | Report abuse

So you just have it shipped to your office or your friend's house in VA or DC.

Posted by: ms1234 | February 1, 2011 9:03 AM | Report abuse

Selection is more of an issue than price. Places like DC, New York, and San Francisco have retailers who offer older rare wines that are not available in state. DC states like Addy Bassin's, Schneider's and Calvert also have extensive selections unavailable in Maryl;and.

Many Marylanders already drive into DC to buy rarer wines which they cannot get in Maryland, which those DC stores cannot ship to Maryland buyers. Maryland buyers can't even mail order wines from local Maryland wineries such as Elk Run, or from larger Baltimore stores.

Posted by: samsara15 | February 1, 2011 9:04 AM | Report abuse

Selection is more of an issue than price. Places like DC, New York, and San Francisco have retailers who offer older rare wines that are not available in state. DC states like Addy Bassin's, Schneider's and Calvert also have extensive selections unavailable in Maryl;and.

Many Marylanders already drive into DC to buy rarer wines which they cannot get in Maryland, which those DC stores cannot ship to Maryland buyers. Maryland buyers can't even mail order wines from local Maryland wineries such as Elk Run, or from larger Baltimore stores.

The wines clubs that offer a couple of bottles of wine by the month also cannot ship to Maryland.

Posted by: samsara15 | February 1, 2011 9:06 AM | Report abuse

Price is a "red herring" pushed by the Maryland Liquor Lobby. It is expensive for consumers to ship wine, because they are unable to take advantage of large scale shipping which can cut per bottle costs. I do it for the same reasons that others have mentioned (access to special wines and convenience). To give you an idea of shipping costs, I recently sent two bottles to a relative living out of state. The shipping costs were $13.95. I assume part of the cost was packaging, but the point is that price was not the issue. The Liquor Lobby should not be allowed to perpetuate this myth. Lawmakers need to ask why the wholesalers are so keen on maintaining their antiquated system. It has to do with maintaining their monopolistic power. It is time for significant change on this issue in Maryland.

Posted by: ahaltster | February 1, 2011 10:34 AM | Report abuse

"So you just have it shipped to your office or your friend's house in VA or DC."

Believe it or not, above a certain small quantity allowed to cross the border, you are actually committing a felony when you do this in Maryland. You are avoiding the tax payment. Kind of like a customs duty for international travel.

Another good reason to pass the law - increased taxed revenue for the state currently being lost to DC and Virginia. This is really a no brainer.

Posted by: mjzwick | February 1, 2011 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Tell all "associations" to shut the hell up, let people buy what they want from where they want. It's call the free market. I thought that's what all businesses believed in? Guess not.

Posted by: jckdoors | February 1, 2011 3:54 PM | Report abuse

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