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Wine Laws -- Shipping, To-Go, and More


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Supreme Court has just ruled (5-4) that laws banning the shipment of wine between states are invalid.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority, "States have broad power to regulate liquor. This power, however, does not allow states to ban, or severely limit, the direct shipment of out-of-state wine while simultaneously authorizing direct shipment by in-state producers."

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/scotus_wine_shipments

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The only thing for us Free State residents is what our lovely state legislature and Gov. Bobby will do. The opinion only states that the states can't discriminate. The states could still ban all (intra- and inter-) state shipping. Add in the idiocy that is the Montgomery County Liquor Board, and it is not at all clear if we will be able to get wine shipped.

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The decision only applies directly to New York and Michigan. I suspect that there will be lots of cases bubbling up with regard to the laws of ther other states that ban direct shipment of wine by out of state wineries. State legislatures also will be looking at their laws in light of this decision. They could do one of three things: (1) repeal their existing law, (2) ban direct shipment of wine by all wineries, not just the out of state ones, (3) nothing (leave it up to the courts to stike down their law). One big winner will be the lawyers, what a litigation bonanza.

edited to add: Oh, and Congress could enact a statute that permits state laws that allow direct shipments of wine by in-state wineries and ban such shipments by out of state wineries. But I think the chances of that are low. Are there any wineries in Maryland?

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The only thing for us Free State residents is what our lovely state legislature and Gov. Bobby will do. The opinion only states that the states can't discriminate. The states could still ban all (intra- and inter-) state shipping. Add in the idiocy that is the Montgomery County Liquor Board, and it is not at all clear if we will be able to get wine shipped.

Maryland already bans in-state shipping, right? So it doesn't apply. Bastards.

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Maryland already bans in-state shipping, right?  So it doesn't apply.  Bastards.

I don't know.

edited to add: Oh, and Congress could enact a statute that permits state laws that allow direct shipments of wine by in-state wineries and ban such shipments by out of state wineries.  But I think the chances of that are low.  Are there any wineries in Maryland?

Yeah, but would any such state laws still run up against the inter-state trade amendment? Last I looked a Constitutional Amendment trumps any law subsequently passed by Congress.

Yeah, a few wineries.

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I don't know.

Yeah, but would any such state laws still run up against the inter-state trade amendment? Last I looked a Constitutional Amendment trumps any law subsequently passed by Congress.

Yeah, a few wineries.

The Supremes at least said that wine is an "emerging and significant business" with more small wineries needing direct sales because of the consolidating of the wholesale business. They said that the Commerce Clause trumps the part of the Twenty-first Amendment that the state's were using to justify allowing in-state wineries to sell directly to consumers but not letting, or making it extremely hard, for out of state wineries to do the same thing. So, it's back to the drawing boards for the other states that were doing what MI and NY were doing. And Congress can try to amend its laws to carve out protections for intrastate wine shipments - but they're pretty busy with other silly stuff right now.
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The Commerce Clause gives to Congress the exclusive power to regulate interstate commence. What we have here is the states enacting laws that discriminate against out of state goods. Those laws are unconstututional because they are not authorized by Congress. It is not a matter of amending the Constitution, it is a matter of Congress exercising the power given it by the Commerce Clause. All those statutes that were enacted by Congress prior to prohibition are exercises of Commerce Clause power. Congress could wave its legislative magic wand and authorize the sort of discrimination that the Court found unconstitutional.

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Yes Congress could wave its wand, but I doubt it will -- there is a pretty strong "free wine" caucus in the House led by a Republican member, George Radonovich, who is himself owner of the eponymous Radonovich Vinyards. It may be that the abstemious part of the GOP could trump the free trade part, but I doubt it.

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I would think that "wine states" would vote against authorizing discriminatory treatment against out of state wineries. Right now, Congress has a lot on its plate and I don't see this coming up anytime soon. In the Senate, it likley would go before the Commerce Committee which has several members from "wine states." I don't see such a bill making it out of committee in the Senate. In the House, probably the Judiciary Committee which has 7 members from CA alone.

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I think we all agree that Congress is unlikely to act on this. Change will likely only happen at the state level, such as NJ which rescinded intra-state shipping as they saw this decision coming down the pike.

Now that I finally read the front page of the Post today, I actually know some of the situation around our area

VA - Allows shipment of 1 case per month

DC - Allows shipment of 1 bottle per month

MD - Shit out of luck

My personal plan is to continue to support Free The Grapes in their efforts to get these jurisdictions (esp. MD :lol: ) to open up to wine shipments.

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I would think that "wine states" would vote against authorizing discriminatory treatment against out of state wineries.  Right now, Congress has a lot on its plate and I don't see this coming up anytime soon.  In the Senate, it likley would go before the Commerce Committee which has several members from "wine states." I don't see such a bill making it out of committee in the Senate.  In the House, probably the Judiciary Committee which has 7 members from CA alone.

You also have some big free trade types on Senate Commerce.

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Although not addressed by the court's action yesterday, I really wonder whether the "quantity shipped" issue should be looked at. (Granted, there's no one whose going to make it a priority). But I agree that the one bottle of wine per month in the District is a joke. And who enforces that? Who's liable for a violation? The buyer? The shipper? What if the buyer gets one bottle from 12 different vineyards? Not to mention the fact that if it's perfectly legal to go to a store and buy ten cases, why not have them shipped if shipping is permitted.

Who writes these laws??!!! And were they bombed when they wrote them?

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Although not addressed by the court's action yesterday, I really wonder whether the "quantity shipped" issue should be looked at.  (Granted, there's no one whose going to make it a priority).  But I agree that the one bottle of wine per month in the District is a joke.  And who enforces that?  Who's liable for a violation?  The buyer?  The shipper?  What if the buyer gets one bottle from 12 different vineyards?  Not to mention the fact that if it's perfectly legal to go to a store and buy ten cases, why not have them shipped if shipping is permitted.

Who writes these laws??!!!  And were they bombed when they wrote them?

The DC government is committed to extracting it's alchohol tax which is double the rate of VA. I've heard reports of DC residents who purchased a case or two in VA getting stopped and searched by DC cops upon their return to the District. No wonder they have imposed this -- basically unenforceable -- restriction on shipments. It would seem that the discriminatory aspect of this is fairly clear, but may require additional litigation to overturn.

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The DC government is committed to extracting it's alchohol tax which is double the rate of VA.  I've heard reports of DC residents who purchased a case or two in VA getting stopped and searched by DC cops upon their return to the District.  No wonder they have imposed this -- basically unenforceable -- restriction on shipments.  It would seem that the discriminatory aspect of this is fairly clear, but may require additional litigation to overturn.

Actually, I think it is the other way around. The tax in VA is double that of DC. The prices on liquor in DC are much lower than they are at the VaABC stores. In the hey day of Central Liquors, the VA revenoors used to stake out the parking lot and watch for cars with VA plates loading up. They would follow the car across the river and stop them once they were in VA. DC sued VA in federal court and got an injunction against VA stopping the practice.

Unless of course, your comment is limited to wine. In that case, VA might have a lower tax than DC, but I don't think it is double.

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Did some quick research -

SALES tax on liquor

DC - 8%

VA - 4%

MD - 5%

BUT, this does not include any of the excise tax or other accounting tricks that VA ABC puts into its liquor prices.

DC and MD have close to the same excise taxes on beer and wine, VA is MUCH higher (basically triple).

Overall pricing will require more testing. Not to mention to start comparing non-Montgomery County parts of MD.

Edited by JPW
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This ruling does not only apply to NY and MI, it provides president to negate all such shipping laws. From what I have been told by an attorney who is involved with the case (winning side), all aspects of discrimination against out-of-state wineries, and possibly retailers, are null-and-void. That means that the portion of the new Texas law allowing direct shipping, that puts limits on the amount wine that can be imported in to the state is not legally binding. If Virginia only allows one case per month to be delivered from either an in-state or out-of-state winery than that will stand.

As for Maryland, it was Glendening's anti-alcohol zeal that moved the legislature to make it a felony to ship into the state. He is no where to be found, so there could be a possibility that the law can be changed.

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Did some quick research -

BUT, this does not include any of the excise tax or other accounting tricks that VA ABC puts into its liquor prices.

Overall pricing will require more testing. Not to mention to start comparing non-Montgomery County parts of MD.

It has been my experience that Virginia liquor prices are not that different than what you will find in DC, and no where near as high as MoCo.

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It has been my experience that Virginia liquor prices are not that different than what you will find in DC, and no where near as high as MoCo.

Not always.

For one, occasionally the MoCo stores have great sales.

I only go to a couple places in the district, but, for example, the Magruder's regular price on Maker's Mark is much higher than MoCo regular price .

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I was referring to wine and not ABC/liquor prices in VA. I think if you shop around for wine you can find good deals in all jurisdictions, but since the discussion was really about DC's inane restriction on how many bottles a consumer may receive per month in the mail, my point was about protecting the revenues the District receives from its alcohol tax on wines (although I guess it would apply to any form of alchohol).

Edited by FunnyJohn
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Man, the things you learn from reading dr.com, albeit belatedly. DC limits wine shipments to one bottle a month? I been breaking me some laws! Happily, none of the online wine merchants whose kids I am putting through college seem to either know about this or give a hoot. And how the hell is such a regulation supposed to be enforced, exactly? A tiny mind is boggling here.

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Man, the things you learn from reading dr.com, albeit belatedly. DC limits wine shipments to one bottle a month? I been breaking me some laws! Happily, none of the online wine merchants whose kids I am putting through college seem to either know about this or give a hoot. And how the hell is such a regulation supposed to be enforced, exactly? A tiny mind is boggling here.

Stretch, the system was probably set up by the same folks who came up with the zone system for taxis. Go figure. :lol:
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So the first shake out from the Supreme Court's ruling has occured. Gov. Pataki (NY) is proposing a bill to allow in and out of state shipping of wine. Apparently the wine industry in NY has long sort out of state shipping.

From the AP story

"The bill would require shippers such as Federal Express and UPS to obtain a valid photo identification and signature before delivering wine to a customer and require licensed wineries to register with the state Tax Department.

It also mandates that out-of-state wineries applying for a license to ship into New York have to be located in states that give New York vintners similar shipping privileges."

Full AP story:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20050526/ap_on_bi_ge/farm_scene

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Just in case you're following the ripple-effect in Maryland:

The Baltimore Business Journal had an article last week that sounded both hopeful and "business as usual."

http://baltimore.bizjournals.com/baltimore...ry7.html?page=1

The article mentions a "Maryland Wine and Grape Advisory Committee" that "will make direct shipment of wines a hot button topic this year." The members are appointed and not familiar names (to me). Can anyone shed light on who they are? Here's the link to their names and who appointed them:

http://www.mdarchives.state.md.us/msa/mdma...l/dag.html#wine

When in a west coast tasting room, I'd just like to answer the question "where are you from" without being met with a facial expression that says "you poor dear, it must be so difficult living in a cultural backwater."

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Hot off the presses from France, a letter in my inbox this morning:

"J'ai vu à la TV un restaurateur du Jura qui s'est inspiré du doggy bag Américain et qui propose à ses clients le Jura bag. Ils peuvent donc commander une bonne bouteille de vin et comme il ne faut pas trop boire avant de reprendre le volant, ils peuvent emporter le reste de la bouteille dans un sac en papier épais marron avec anses de la dimension d'une bouteille: 'Le Jura bag'."

"I saw on TV a restaurateur from the Jura who was inspired by the 'American Doggy Bag" and is offering his patrons the "Jura Bag." They can order a good bottle of wine, and since you can't drink too much before getting behind the wheel, they can take the rest of the bottle in a thick paper bag the size of the bottle: 'The Jura Bag.'"

My first thought? Hell, we can do that here at Tallula.

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Hot off the presses from France, a letter in my inbox this morning:

"J'ai vu à la TV un restaurateur du Jura qui s'est inspiré du doggy bag Américain et qui propose à ses clients le Jura bag. Ils peuvent donc commander une bonne bouteille de vin et comme il ne faut pas trop boire avant de reprendre le volant, ils peuvent emporter le reste de la bouteille dans un sac en papier épais marron avec anses de la dimension d'une bouteille: 'Le Jura bag'."

"I saw on TV a restaurateur from the Jura who was inspired by the 'American Doggy Bag" and is offering his patrons the "Jura Bag."  They can order a good bottle of wine, and since you can't drink too much before getting behind the wheel, they can take the rest of the bottle in a thick paper bag the size of the bottle:  'The Jura Bag.'"

My first thought?  Hell, we can do that here at Tallula.

Not too mention numerous storefronts in the District. Or does Mad Dog not count?

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As for Maryland, it was Glendening's anti-alcohol zeal that moved the legislature to make it a felony to ship into the state.  He is no where to be found, so there could be a possibility that the law can be changed.

It wasn't only Glendening, good old Donald Schafer (I know I didn't spell that right) is also one of the major problems. MD actually passed a law that would have allowed out of state wineries to ship to consumers in MD, but Donald, in his capacity as Comptroler made the regulations and red tape so complex as to make it impossible. For example, if any of a winery's wine was sold thru a distributor in MD, that winery could only go thru a distributor. If the wine the customer wanted was a high end, limited production single vineyard wine that the distributor did not carry, too bad.

I once asked Piere Rivoli why Rober Parker didn't put his influence behind getting MD laws changed since he is a MD resident. Piere's response was that Parker had, but his voice is meaningless against the millions and millions of dollars that the distributors put into political contributions and lobbying. The fact is undisputed that it is the wholesalers and distibutors who make a fortune in the three tier system who are the driving force behind keeping shipping laws from changing. They spend a bundle trying to influence the court decision.

However, I think they are barking up the wrong tree. Allowing direct shipping from wineries will not hurt their business, distributors are just too important to wineries to do away with them. Allowing direct shipping from small wineries will only help the entire industry, and thus the distributors.

As to Montgomery County; because the county is the only legal wholesaler, and they rigidly enforce the law that says that retailers and restaurants cannot sell alcohol that was not purchased thru the county wholesaler, prices for wine in the county are on the average about 35% higher than they should be. Yes, sometimes you can find a great deal in the county stores, but not often. To give you an example of the difference in prices, there is a wine store that has two stores, one in Montgomery County and one in Fairfax Co. A bottle of wine that costs $12 in the VA store costs $16 in MD. According to the owner, the difference is entirely because he has to purchase the wine thru the county wholesaler and he pays more than he has to pay for the same wine he gets from his wholesaler in VA.

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I wonder who the restaurateur in the Jura is, 'cause during my mis-spent youth I use to frequent a "truck stop" called La Chaumere run by a real good but slightly off his nut guy whom we called Ton-Ton. Don't think it was him though because he would never let us leave the establishment without finishing off the case -- let alone a bottle :lol:

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The decision only applies directly to New York and Michigan.  I suspect that there will be lots of cases bubbling up with regard to the laws of ther other states that ban direct shipment of wine by out of state wineries.  State legislatures also will be looking at their laws in light of this decision.  They could do one of three things:  (1) repeal their existing law, (2) ban direct shipment of wine by all wineries, not just the out of state ones, (3) nothing (leave it up to the courts to stike down their law).  One big winner will be the lawyers, what a litigation bonanza.

edited to add: Oh, and Congress could enact a statute that permits state laws that allow direct shipments of wine by in-state wineries and ban such shipments by out of state wineries.  But I think the chances of that are low.  Are there any wineries in Maryland?

No surprise, a case is now working its way through the system (U.S. District Court in Baltimore) by a Pennsylvania winery, Wright Wine Works, and a Maryland resident, challenging the constitutionality of Maryland's winery laws. Maryland's 20 some wineries are allowed to sell directly to consumers, retailers and restaurants, but out-of-state wineries have to go through a distributor. (Md. Code Art. 2B Sec. 7.5-106 for all of you who need something to do this afternoon.) The same law firm is bringing similar suits in a number of other states too. Edited by crackers
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No surprise, a case is now working its way through the system (U.S. District Court in Baltimore) by a Pennsylvania winery, Wright Wine Works, and a Maryland resident, challenging the constitutionality of Maryland's winery laws.  Maryland's 20 some wineries are allowed to sell directly to consumers, retailers and restaurants, but out-of-state wineries have to go through a distributor.  (Md. Code Art. 2B Sec. 7.5-106 for all of you who need something to do this afternoon.)  The same law firm is bringing similar suits in a number of other states too.

I think the more appropriate code section to look at is § 2-204.

A Class 3 manufacturer's license:

(1) Is a winery license; and

(2) Authorizes the holder to:

(i) Establish and operate in this State a plant for fermenting and bottling wine at the location described in the license;

(ii) Import bulk wine from the holder of a nonresident dealer's permit;

(iii) Sell and deliver wine to any wholesale licensee or permit holder in this State, or person outside of this State authorized to acquire wine;

(iv) Sell wine made from products grown in Maryland at a retail price at the plant to persons participating in a guided tour of the facility. The purchase shall be limited to not more than one quart per person per year provided the purchaser has attained the Maryland legal drinking age; and

(v) Serve at no charge not more than 6 ounces of wines made at the licensed facility to a person who is participating in a guided tour of the facility, provided the person has attained the Maryland legal drinking age.

As I understand it, Maryland law does not permit MD wineries to ship wine within the state to consumers unless it is local delivery, by the winery, meaning within the county in which the winery is located, i.e., they can't ship across county lines.

You will notice that the law requires that they can sell wine (except for a limited amount directly at the winery to consumers) only to holders of wholesale licenses.

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As I understand it, Maryland law does not permit MD wineries to ship wine within the state to consumers unless it is local delivery, by the winery, meaning within the county in which the winery is located, i.e., they can't ship across county lines.

You will notice that the law requires that they can sell wine (except for a limited amount directly at the winery to consumers) only to holders of wholesale licenses.

It looks worse given the Comptroller's interpretation. This article was in today's Baltimore Business Journal. Sorry if this is long, but I wasn't sure what to prune.

[Also note the Maryland Wine & Grape Advisory Committee I mentioned upthread is defunct. We now have The Maryland Wine and Grape Promotion Council which was authorized in July 2005 (Chapter 320, Acts of 2005). With input from the Governor's Advisory Commission on Maryland Wine and Grape Growing it distributes grants from the Maryland Wine and Grape Promotion Fund.]

Baltimore Business Journal - 2:37 PM EST Tuesday

Comptroller's ruling possible 'death knell' for Maryland wineries

By: Julekha Dash, Staff

Maryland wineries will be prevented from directly selling their wines to retail stores and restaurants starting March 31, according to an administrative ruling the state's comptroller's office issued earlier this month.

Should the ruling take effect, it would financially threaten most of the state's 22 wineries, which rely on orders from retailers and restaurants and cannot afford to go through a distributor.

"It's a death knell for the smallest wineries," said Kevin Atticks, executive director of the Maryland Wineries Association. Seventy percent of Maryland wines are distributed by the wineries to retail stores and restaurants, according to the association.

Atticks defined small wineries as those which produce fewer than 40,000 gallons of wine per year, which applies to 18 of the state's wineries.

The comptroller's administrative ruling is essentially an interpretation of existing Maryland law and not a new law, said Gerald Langbaum, counsel for the comptroller's office and a state assistant attorney general. Though Maryland wineries had been selling directly for years, a new interpretation of the law was required in response to a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2005, Langbaum said. The ruling declared that states could not favor their own wineries over out-of-state vintners with regards to the distribution of wine.

"No one wants to put anyone out of business," Langbaum said.

The comptroller's ruling is also a response to a lawsuit filed against the state late last year. The suit alleges that Maryland's sales laws, which allow in-state wineries to sell directly to retailers and restaurants while preventing out-of-state wineries from doing so, violates the U.S. Constitution.

Filed by a Pennsylvania winery and a Silver Spring resident, the plaintiffs seek an injunction against the state of Maryland from enforcing laws that prohibit out-of-state wineries from selling wine directly to retailers and consumers. Similar suits have been filed in about a dozen other states.

Maryland wineries can sell wine to consumers, retailers and restaurants, while out-of-state wineries must go through a distributor. Owners of small Maryland wineries say it would not be cost effective for them to pay a distributor to deliver their wines.

Winery officials are hoping to muster support for a bill that would allow them to continue selling to retailers and restaurants. Senate Bill 812 would also allow small out-of-state wineries to sell directly to retailers and restaurants, through in person, on-site deliveries, not shipments via a courier such as FedEx. The bill has 10 senate sponsors, including Sen. Thomas "Mac" Middleton (D-Charles County), the lead sponsor and powerful chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

Lynne Basignani, co-owner of Basignani Winery in Sparks, is one of 15 winery owners who met with legislators Monday night to muster support for the bill. Basignani is not sure how the comptroller's ruling will impact the 20-year-old winery, but plans to fight it.

On Tuesday afternoon, a salesperson at the winery was set to deliver cases of Chardonnay to the Center Club after a last-minute request -- something the winery couldn't do if the ruling took effect.

© 2006 American City Business Journals Inc.

Edited by Lydia R
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Quote from the article:

"Winery officials are hoping to muster support for a bill that would allow them to continue selling to retailers and restaurants. Senate Bill 812 would also allow small out-of-state wineries to sell directly to retailers and restaurants, through in person, on-site deliveries, not shipments via a courier such as FedEx."

This seems like a pretty effective restraint on trade too. How many small wineries will babysit a case of wine across country and personally deliver it?

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How many small wineries will babysit a case of wine across country and personally deliver it?

They will probably hire a broker to take care of the issue for them like some do in DC where paperwork has to be filed in DC and originals of the paperwork be sent back to the winery to accompany the wine to DC.

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Question for the legal eagles -- What, if anything, will this mean for residents of Montgomery County?

Probably not a thing. The stupid laws that make the County the only legal wholesaler are still there and this shouldn't have any effect on them. Restaurants are required to buy from the county and can't buy direct from the winery (at least not legally)

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There are a flurry of bills being introduced in Annapolis this session pertaining to wine. These are just some general highlights:

SB812 would add to the definition of a “wholesaler” a winery that sells wine to retail dealers, and adds a “Class 6” wholesale license for small domestic wine producers (which, hey, aren't they all "small"?) However, while these new Class 6 wholesalers would not be able to transfer wines to a third party for delivery, they would be allowed to add more locations to warehouse, sell and deliver their wines (for a fee, of course). Picture those mall kiosks full of local wine next Chrismas!

The key bill you all are probably looking for is HB625, which would create a “direct wine shipper” license for out of state winemakers, brand owners, importers or Maryland agents of brand owners or importers. The licensees would have to report to the Comptroller every year how much wine they shipped into Maryland, and pay state sales and excise taxes (and license fees, of course). They would be limited to shipping two cases per month to any individual. Orders and purchases would be allowed over the internet, but receipt of wine by anyone under 21 would be prohibited, as would be any use but personal consumption (as opposed to re-sale.) The recent AG’s opinion that LydiaR mentioned up thread may require some changes to this bill. And it would have to be squared with the in-state winery shipping laws.

HB517/SB280 is my personal favorite: it would allow anyone who buys a bottle of wine with a meal at a licensed restaurant to take the partially empty bottle with them, provided they comply with the “open container” provisions of the motor vehicle law. Here’s the other kicker: the restaurant itself must re-cork the bottle, so that the top of the cork is level with the lip of the bottle. :lol:

HB624 repeals the current limit of how much wine can be sold to an individual at a winery during a guided tour. The limit now is one quart per year. (You all knew that, right?)

Edited by crackers
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The key bill you all are probably looking for is HB625, which would create a “direct wine shipper” license for out of state winemakers, brand owners, importers or Maryland agents of brand owners or importers.  The licensees would have to report to the Comptroller every year how much wine they shipped into Maryland, and pay state sales and excise taxes (and license fees, of course).  They would be limited to shipping two cases per month to any individual.  Orders and purchases would be allowed over the internet, but receipt of wine by anyone under 21 would be prohibited, as would be any use but personal consumption (as opposed to re-sale.)  The recent AG’s opinion that LydiaR mentioned up thread may require some changes to this bill. And it would have to be squared with the in-state winery shipping laws. 

Please tell me that this, at least, could side step the fascist Monkey County liquor board.

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The General Assembly made progess this session. Here's an update on an upthread issue relating to small wineries in Friday's Washington Business Journal:

Maryland governor to sign wine legislation

Washington Business Journal - 2:08 PM EDT Fridayby Julekha Dash Contributing Writer

Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich will sign a bill that allows small wineries to sell their wines directly to retail stores and restaurants in the state.

The emergency legislation was drafted in response to the state comptroller's administrative ruling in February that declared wineries must stop delivering directly to restaurants and retailers as of June 1.

Henry P. Fawell, a spokesman for the Republican governor, said Friday Ehrlich will sign the legislation.

The governor believes it is "the appropriate solution to preserving the wine industry in Maryland," Fawell sats.

Senate Bill 812 pitted the state's wineries against wholesalers until last week, when a compromise was reached and the bill was amended. The change allowed wineries that produce up to 27,500 gallons of wine -- rather than 40,000 gallons -- to distribute directly to restaurants without going through a wholesaler.

The comptroller's administrative ruling followed a lawsuit against the state, alleging that Maryland's sales laws, which allow in-state wineries to sell directly to retailers and restaurants while preventing out-of-state wineries from doing so, violates the U.S. Constitution.

All contents of this site © American City Business Journals Inc. All rights reserved.

Does anyone know the status of the "Merlot to go" bill?
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