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March 28, 2011

Assembly ships wine shipping toward governor

The Senate has joined the House of Delegates in passing a proposal that enables wineries to ship bottles directly to Maryland homes.

All 45 senators who voted on the shipping bill gave it the green light.(Sen. J.B. Jennings is away at flight training and Sen. Ulysses Currie did not vote.)

Gov. Martin O'Malley has said he would sign the legislation. That's the only major step remaining, though procedural legislative votes remain. The legislation would take effect July 1, in time for late summer wine sipping.

After years of disputes about whether Maryland should join 37 other states and the District of Columbia in allowing wine shipping, the alcohol industry, consumers and lawmakers this year struck a compromise. The House passed the bill nearly unanimously on Saturday.

Wineries can pay a $200 annual fee to ship to Marylanders. Residents can receive up to 18 cases per year. Retailers, including those who feature "wine of the month" clubs, may not ship to Maryland homes. Only about a dozen states allow retailer shipping.

Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 8:28 PM | | Comments (17)
Categories: 2011 legislative session


Only took 11 years.

So, even though this bill will pass, unless the winery I want to buy from is willing to pay Maryland $200, my $720 case order will never make it here?
Why not ask if the consumer would be willing to pay the liquor tax. Small boutique wineries are not going to be willing to pay the $200 fee per year.

Thank goodness! It never made sense for Maryland to restrict shipping of wine. The arguments about teen drinking, hurtful competition and tax revenues never made any sense. It was the powerful liquor wholesalers who kept the stranglehold on this sensible idea of direct shipment for years.
Next stop: retailer shipping. If consumers can order books and shoes online, in competition with small family-owned Maryland book stores and shoe stores, why can't we do the same with wine?

So how does this law effect personal shipping of wine from out of state? If I buy a wine in Oregon, will I be able to ship it to Maryland legally ?

Thanks to the Maryland General Assembly for continuing to put restrictions on the purchase of wine by Marylanders.

Marylanders certainly wouldn't want wineries or retailers to ship their wines freely to us consumers without additional fees. Our state government never passes on an opportunity to make it difficult for businesses to operate by using fees and regulations. And us consumers really are thankful for protection from making free choices by our state government.

I guess the state thinks we should be happy that the legislators and governor finally allowed us to get wine shipped to us at all. But would it be too much to ask for wines to be shipped to Marylanders without the state being involved?

Maryland - the land of pleasant taxation and regulation!

I joined a wine club at Keswick Vineyards in Charlottesville this weekend. I gave them my work address in DC for shipping, thinking I could change it to my home address when this bill is in effect. Now I have to wait and see if they are willing to pay Maryland for the right to ship the product that I've purchased?

yeah. That makes sense.

I wonder what the cost of shipping will be on a bottle of wine? $10? The two hundred dollar fee ensures that you are charged 6% sales tax and the new 1% alcohol tax.
Did you really think this was for the wine purchasers? This was for the wineries in Md.

This bill is certainly not perfect (retailers should have been included) but the license fee, sales tax and excise tax payments by wineries is pretty much standard across the country. Maryland wineries can currently ship to almost every state that allows shipping - if they are willing to buy that state's shipping license. Unless you have enough demand it doesn't make sense to buy one. There is also no question that Maryland was losing revenue to people shipping to neighboring jurisdictions (like VA, where the taxes would get paid there) or shipped illegally into Maryland.

However, I suspect that California wineries (for example) that are already shipping to states on the East Coast will add Maryland - the demographics are compelling.

I work for a small Napa Valley winery and it will definitely pay the $200 to add Maryland. Our wines are all handcrafted and we have been waiting for the opportunity to ship them to your state. If you have any interest in marketing these wines, contact me for more information at

This is a step up...a step up from the ridiculous to the absurd...what is the argument for not being able to buy from out-of-state retailers?? I would imagine it's the fear of not being able to get a fee on alchohol least I have an out...I'll just continue to get my wine shipped to a friend in WV...or take a short trip to DC...ha! It's absurd...'cause the vast majority of alcohol is beer and liqour...not wine...and I'd buy 95% of my wine locally BUT I'd love to have the option of buying wine I can't find outside of MD. Just absurd.

Government of, by, and for the special interests still prevail in Marland!

Government of, by, and for the special interests still prevail in Marland!

This is about as good as no law at all. I don't want to order wine from wineries. I want to be able to have wine shipped from retailers in other states. I want to have my Zagat wine club shipments sent to me instead of to my friends in Virginia.

what passed is worse than passing nothing. It will make me NOT ship to my home. I'll send to my DC work address!
Bless the knuckleheads that represent the people of Maryland. So many special interests nothing gets done.

How is this worse than no bill? For those who want to buy wines available only by mailing list from out-of-state wineries, this is a huge plus. $200 is peanuts for a winery with mulitple MD customers who each spend multiples of that amount each year.

Sure, it's still not possible for retailers to import, and that's still a major pain but it's no worse than before.

I don't like wine much, but I have not tried much. I want to though. It always cheesed me off that I couldn't try different wines. I had to choose from a POS liquor store with a vast 1 isle to choose from. I think this is a good step (I can't believe MD is doing it at the same time they are making cigar shipping illegal).

ZAGAT Wine Club ships to: AZ, CA, CO, CT, FL, IA, ID, IL, IN, LA, MA, MI, MN, MO, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OH, OR, SC, TN, TX, VA, WA, WI, WV, WY and DC.

A majority of states (32) + DC

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About the bloggers
Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.

John Fritze has covered politics and government at the local, state and federal levels for more than a decade and is now The Baltimore Sun’s Washington correspondent. He previously wrote about Congress for USA TODAY, where he led coverage of the health care overhaul debate and the 2010 election. A native of Albany, N.Y., he currently lives in Montgomery County.

Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.
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