Maryland wine industry could take 24 of 25 steps it hoped to take

A blog posting on The Wine Classroom about the Winery Modernization Act, which solves all of Maryland's wine problems except direct shipping:

Maryland wine industry could take 24 of 25 steps it hoped to take

By PAUL VIGNA, The Patriot-News

March 19, 2010, 10:29PM


It likely won't be a total loss for those who sell and drink wine in Maryland.

Almost assuredly the legislation to allow direct shipping won't pass this year, according to a Wednesday story in the Baltimore Sun. That's another win for the liquor lobby in the state, and it's hard to imagine that score every changing.

But the story in Wednesday's Sun noted that legislation supported by the Maryland Wine Association likely will pass next week. That "would allow local vineyards to sell their wines at farmers' markets and expand their tastings and food services," the story said.

Kevin Atticks, the association's executive director, said it wasn't exactly a compromise that some in the media and elsewhere have termed it. "There is no compromise bill, but it has been played up in the media that our legislation is the compromise, and that's not true," he said. "The whole word compromise has been used by the committee chair and oppostion just to make it sound like we're not going to pass shipping because we're passing their winery bill, and so the media started using that phrase. But the two are completely unrelated. Shipping had its last hearing yesterday [Wednesday] in the Senate."

All that netted, Atticks said, was a blog posting in the Sun (scroll down to the March 17 posts, and then read the Washington Post article on the Maryland liquor lobby that the blog references). 

In the meantime, what Atticks called the Winery Modernization Act was expected to get a "penultimate reading in the Senate" today, which he expected to include approval, and then a vote in the House on Monday night. Assuming it's passed, Atticks said, the legislation "solves 24 problems that we have studied and reported on over the years that keeps us from being competitive with our neighboring states. It creates one statewide license instead of 23, one per county, it removes some of the shenanigans that people have to go through to have a sample of wine or a glass of wine at a winery. Right now they have to take a guided tour or be attending a commercial event. So those go away."

It will also:

* allow wineries to charge for samples, if they so wish, something they haven't been allowed to do to this point,

* will give wineries the freedom to serve certain types of food items on a regular basis,

* and will provide the opportunity for more cooperation among wineries, such as sharing equipment.

All of these issues were summed up in a 2009 report entitled "Impediments to Growth." Atticks said it addressed 25 problems with Maryland law. One was direct shipping. "And 24 of them are solved in our bill," he said.    

Wineries with Permits

Wineries Able to Ship to MD

Here is a link to the Comptroller's website. Search for "DW-Direct Wine Shippers Permit" under permit type.

Search for wineries


Please Donate to MBBWL

Subscribe to MBBWL's Newsletter