Wineries push to 'modernize' image

The Carroll County Times posted the article below about the Maryland Wineries Association not getting involved with the direct wine shipping bill this year, even though they say that wineries would benefit from being allowed to direct ship:

Wineries push to 'modernize' image
Sunday, January 31, 2010
Dylan Slagle/Staff Photo
Winemaker Sarah O’Herron pours wine for Anne and Win Boyer, of Parkville, and Lisa and Marc Austin, of Woodbine, during a tasting at Black Ankle vineyards in Mount Airy Jan. 24.

Ray Brasfield, owner of Cygnus Wine Cellars in Manchester and president of the Maryland Wineries Association, said that while wineries would benefit from being allowed to direct ship, the group is not getting involved with the bill this year.

“The issue of direct shipping is and always has been and will continue to be a consumer issue,” Brasfield said. “Our taking that issue to the legislature will go absolutely nowhere.”

Instead, the wineries are focusing on their own bill, the Maryland Winery Modernization Act, which will take care of about 20 other problems in the wine industry, said Kevin Atticks, executive director of the Maryland Wineries Association.

“Overwhelmingly, our industry chose to support this bill with all of its many, many fixes in it, things that we’ve been writing about, reading reports about over the last few years, about things that have been wrong with our alcohol law,” Atticks said. “Shipping is one impediment, and our bill moves to fix about 20 of them.”

These issues were cited in the 2008 report “Impediments to Growth: Regulatory and Statutory Challenges Facing the Maryland Wine Industry,” Atticks said, written by the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Maryland Wine & Grape Growing. The MWA surveyed its members about which issues to pursue in the 2010 session, and those with the highest ranking were included in the legislation.

The Maryland Winery Modernization Act was written to define what a winery is and what it can do, Brasfield said, because state and county laws have always had trouble with trying to make wineries fit into other law categories, such as retail stores, restaurants or farm stores.

“We want to minimize the confusion and misunderstanding about what wineries are and what we do as a normal part of our business,” Brasfield said.

Greg Lambrecht, co-owner of Serpent Ridge Vineyard in Westminster, said he and the MWA are optimistic the bill will get passed this year because the legislation was written with the help of other groups that may have been opposed to similar bills in previous years.

“We’ve partnered with the other folks in the liquor and wine industry here in Maryland just to basically bring our laws up to date,” Lambrecht said. “They’re very ancient, they haven’t been updated in a long time, and I think it will help everyone for us to get that modernization act through.”



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Ed Boyce, co-owner of Black Ankle Vineyards in Mount Airy, said the Maryland Winery Modernization Act isn’t going to let wineries do anything that they aren’t already doing, but it will give them some leeway in how they do them.

For example, current law says that a winery can’t give tastings on their grounds unless they give a tour of the winery first. However, for returning customers, the tour is usually only interesting the first or second time, Boyce said. The new legislation, if passed, would eliminate that requirement.

“There are also always issues about what kind of food we can serve,” Boyce said.

For example, the law isn’t clear about whether wineries can put out pre-sliced cheese or if it needs to be presented in its packaging, he said. That’s one of the other details they’re looking forward to clearing up. “It’s really nice to get to be a real winery, like in other states,” Boyce said.

Reach staff writer Carrie Ann Knauer at 410-857-7874 or carrie.knauer@carrollcountytimes.com.

What it does

Allow wineries to sell their wine for on-and-off premises consumption.

Allow wineries to give samples of their wines for free or for a fee.

Allow sales seven days a week.

Restrict “ad hoc” on-premises consumption to before 6 p.m. After 6 p.m., customers must be attending a special event.

Restrict food service at wineries to a specific list of food items.

Allow wineries to process their wine at other Maryland wineries, which would allow for co-ops.

Allow the limited purchase of bulk wine from other Maryland wineries for use in blending with their own products.

Allow wineries to hold other manufacturing licenses.

Allow retailer stores to attend farmers markets to sell and promote Maryland wines.

Source: Maryland Wineries Association

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

 

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