California Wine Club wrongly woos Marylanders
* Updated to explain possible penalties.
"Congratulations Maryland Wine Lovers!" a postcard from the popular California Wine Club gushes. "Due to a recent change in your state law, as of July 1st we can now ship wine to you."
The advertisements landed in at least a few Baltimore-area mailboxes last week, inviting consumers to "experience California's best small 'mom & pop' wineries from the comfort of home!"
One problem: Taking them up on their offer is a violation of Maryland law. (* See jump.)
The behemoth wine club appears confused about Maryland's new direct-shipping law. Only wineries can apply for a shipping permit. It remains illegal for web- and retail-based wine clubs to ship -- something consumer advocates have vowed to try to change next year.
Several messages left this week for the California Wine Club have not been returned. The Maryland comptroller's office, which issues direct-shipping permits, reiterated recently that only wineries may ship.
Several dozen wineries have applied for and received shipping permits after submitting paperwork, paying a $200 annual fee and posting a $1,000 bond.
Comptroller Peter Franchot visited Boordy Vineyards in Baltimore County on July 1 in the hopes of being the first Marylander to receive a wine delivery at home. No word on whether it has arrived yet.
* Updated July 12
According to the comptroller's office, a vendors who ships without a permit could face a felony conviction that carries a $1,000 fine and up to two years behind bars. Consumers who have goods delivered by a vendor without a shipping permit would have to pay taxes on the goods and also could face fines and possible imprisonment, the comptroller's office says.
Here's a list of the early adopters of wine shipping.
Wine shipping applications received (* denotes permit granted)
(*) Black Ankle, Frederick County
(*) Boordy Vineyards, Baltimore County
(*) Elk Run Vineyards, Carroll County
(*) Far Eastern Shore Winery, Talbot County (Mesozoic Technologies)
(*) Fiore Winery, Harford County
(*) Knob Hall Winery, Washington County
(*) Layton's Chance Vineyard & Winery, Dorchester County
(*) Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard, Frederick County
(*) Terrapin Station Winery, Montgomery County (Diamondback Wine)
(*) Tilmon's Island Winery, Queen Anne's County
(*) Abeja, Washington
(*) Bell Wine Cellars (Spanos-Berberian)
(*) Bookwalter Winery, Washington
(*) Chateau Julien, California
(*) Chateau Morrisette, Virginia
(*) Clos Pegase Winery, California
(*) Cristom Vineyards, Oregon
(*) Dolce, California
(*) Far Niente Winery, California
(*) Frog's Leap Winery, California
(*) Nickel & Nickel, California
(*) Pride Mountain Vineyards, California
(*) Robert Craig Winery, California
(*) Thomas Fogarty Winery, California
(*) Wine Group, California (two locations ... known for Franzia, wine in a box)
(*) ZD Wines, California
Winery names provided July 1 by the comptroller's office.