Wine proposal fails to gain support from lawmakers

The Frederick News Post posted the article below about local state lawmakers declining to introduce legislation that would allow customers to bring their own wine while dining out "because restaurants would be authorized to charge a corkage fee for serving the wine":

Wine proposal fails to gain support from lawmakers
Originally published February 24, 2010

By Meg Tully

ANNAPOLIS -- Frederick County restaurant patrons still will not be able to bring their own wine while dining out.

Local state lawmakers have declined to introduce legislation that would allow the practice, known as corkage, because restaurants would be authorized to charge a corkage fee for serving the wine.

The proposal was requested at the delegation's annual legislative hearing in December by members of the organization Better Beer and Wine Laws.

It would apply to restaurants that serve wine and liquor, not those without alcohol permits that allow patrons to bring their own.

The idea was raised by chef Bryan Voltaggio of Volt restaurant. He has seen a similar system work well in Washington fine dining restaurants, where collectors like to bring their wine for their meals.

The system also attracts patrons who want to bring a special bottle of wine for their anniversary, one that is not on the wine list. It would be up to each individual restaurant whether to offer corkage.

"I just looked at it as a missed opportunity for the state," Voltaggio said.

At this point, he is raising questions and did not necessarily want to baby-sit a bill or push something through.

But he thinks the concept is worthy of a discussion among lawmakers, restaurateurs, the restaurant association and others interested in the proposal in the future.

If there is a compelling reason not to allow corkage in Maryland, Voltaggio said he would be open to hearing it.

Frederick County delegation chairman Paul Stull said the proposal failed because no one was interested in taking the lead on it.

"Right now, the interest in that particular issue is just not there," Stull said.

Lawmakers heard opposition from some restaurant owners who were not interested in allowing the practice, as well as the Frederick County Liquor Board, over enforcement concerns, Stull said.

"I'd be glad to talk to anybody about it, and if we get the kind of support some people think we should have, then it can come up again and we can have something to bring forward," Stull said.

Adam Borden, executive director of the consumer group Marylanders for Better Beer and Wine Laws, said the practice is common in other states and should be allowed statewide in Maryland.

"We thought Frederick County would be a great place to start, given the support of the restaurant community," Borden said. "We continue to believe the state should enter the modern era by allowing this practice."

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