From the Winery Straight to You
Time for Maryland to repeal itsban on direct shipping
DECEMBER 27, 2010
Maryland's fledgling wine industrygot a potential boost last week from Comptroller Peter Franchot, whose officereleased a report that offers a detailed look at how 37 states and the Districtof Columbia have handled the direct shipping of wine to consumers. Wineenthusiasts and small wineries in Maryland have been lobbying the statelegislature for years to change the laws prohibiting wineries from shippingtheir products directly to consumers.
In Maryland, wineries may onlyship their products to licensed retail outlets. Likewise, wineries in any stateor any nation around the world are prohibited from shipping their wares directlyto Maryland residents. That means no "wine of the month" clubs for Marylanders,no ordering an extra case of that fabulous wine discovered at a festival or on avacation trip and no way (other than traveling to and from the winery) topurchase additional bottles of a favorite wine unless a nearby retailer happensto stock it.
This puts Maryland wineries at acompetitive disadvantage and it limits options for in-state wine lovers whoenjoy vintages that are not stocked in stores in their hometowns. Vintners onthe Shore see value in mutual support rather than cut-throat competition,referring customers to nearby establishments in the hope that all will benefitfrom an increased interest in visiting tasting rooms and vineyards.
According to the comptroller'sreport, Maryland's wineries were responsible directly and indirectly for morethan $40 million in business activity in 2007. That number is likely higher now;this predates the opening of several wineries on the Lower Shore. That year,wineries were also responsible for 348 jobs, which accounted for more than $10million in employee compensation and more than $3 million in state and localrevenue.
Wineries represent a new twist onboth agriculture and tourism in Maryland and they clearly are a growing andviable enterprise.
While concerns have been expressedabout minors gaining access to wine via the Internet if direct shipping of wineis legalized in Maryland, in the 37 states that already allow the practice, noevidence has been gathered that validates it.
Let's make 2011 the year Marylandlegalizes the sale and shipping of wine directly from producer to consumer, tothe delight of wine lovers and the benefits of economic growth and job creationat a time when both are sorely needed.