Senate Bill 616 was scheduled to have been heard by Maryland’s Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs committee on Friday.
If passed, the Senate bill and its companion, HB1260, would significantly improve consumer choice in wine for Maryland’s wine lovers, according to Free the Grapes! – the national grassroots coalition on wine direct shipping.
The bills would allow any winery or retailer licensed by Maryland to ship a limited amount of wine directly to consumers 21 years or older in the state. Both bills are based on the “model” direct shipping law that has been successfully implemented in the majority of states for wineries.
“The model bill is supported by the Federal Trade Commission, was cited by the U.S. Supreme Court, and is the solution that helps consumers, satisfies regulators, creates a new revenue source for states, and promotes in-state wine tourism,” said Jeremy Benson, executive director of Free the Grapes!
Currently, all direct-to-consumer wine shipments are prohibited by Maryland law. The state is one of 15 that still do not allow interstate, winery-to-consumer shipments.
Both shipping bills were endorsed by the Maryland Winery Association, which represents Maryland’s 31 wineries, as well as Marylanders for Better Beer & Wine Laws, a consumer advocacy group.
Maryland is the 18th largest state for wine consumption, according to Adams Wine Handbook 2007, and has tried for years to break the wine wholesalers’ iron grip on distribution. It’s part of a nationwide fight pitting wholesalers against wine lovers, wineries and retailers.