Our View: Legislators Should Allow Wine By Mail
March 2, 2011
Have you ever attended the Autumn Wine Festival at Pemberton Park in Salisbury? If you enjoy wine, this festival featuring Maryland wineries is a pleasant experience — except for one thing. If you find a wine you enjoy and no retailer in the area offers it, you have to stock up at the festival, because you can’t ask the winery to send you a case in the mail, and as a mere consumer, you can’t order it online.
Or perhaps you have seen ads for “wine of the month” clubs, and wished you could join and sample new wines each month. If you are a Maryland resident, you cannot do that either.
Maryland law prohibits shipping of wine from producer direct to consumer, which makes it frustrating for winelovers to patronize smaller regional wineries both in the state and elsewhere.
Because the production and sampling of wine now represents a growing and popular form of tourism, this law is prohibiting the growth of these small businesses by preventing them from developing a continuing business relationship with customers who do not live within driving distance of the wineries.
On Friday, the Maryland Senate and House of Delegates will consider companion bills that will open up the state’s independent wineries to not only ship their product direct to consumers, but also open up commecial markets in other states by bringing the laws into compliance with national standards and allowing our wineries to do business with wineries and retailers in other states that require reciprocity.
Fears that minors will gain easy access to purchasing wine online have not been borne out by the 38 states that already allow direct shipping.
In a time when jobs are sorely needed and our laws should support the activities of a growing agriculture- and tourism-based industry that is well-suited to the Eastern Shore’s economy and lifestyle, it is imperative that we let our legislators know where we stand on this issue.
If you would like to see Maryland’s law regarding the direct shipping of wines to consumers brought into conformity with the laws of a majority of other states, now is the time to let your representatives know. Call, fax or e-mail and encourage passage of this law that promises many benefits to the Lower Shore.