Maryland lawmakers allow wineries to ship direct to residents

on 29/03/11 at 8:18 am


UPDATE: A measure that allows wineries to ship directly to Maryland residents has passed the state Senate.

Wineries across the state — and country — soon might be permitted to ship bottles directly to Maryland homes. Shoppers could pick up local wines at more farmers’ markets. And diners might one day be able to bring their favorite vintage to an already licensed restaurant.

After years of shooting down changes to the state’s alcohol laws, lawmakers are showing signs this year that they’re ready to embrace some measures long sought by consumers.

But for enthusiasts, there may be a price to pay: On Thursday, a Senate committee agreed to raise the sales tax on alcohol from 6 percent to 9 percent. If the increase survives the budget process, it would be the first tax hike on alcohol in four decades.

Maryland wine aficionados are cheering the policy developments. While many are not happy about the potential tax increase, several predicted that it would have minimal impact on sales.

John Richardson was picking up a selection of white wines Thursday afternoon at Beltway Fine Wine & Spirits in Baltimore County. The Towson man said he liked the idea of being able to get California wines shipped to his home.

“It was tantalizing because I get those advertisements for this absolutely wonderful wine you can’t get,” he said as he wrestled a box of bottles into his trunk. “It’s been a long time coming.”

At the Chesapeake Wine Co. in Canton, Kristen Edwards said she, too, is glad to have the option to order wine from other states — especially bottles from her family’s own vineyard, Damiano, in upstate New York.

“They’ve been tremendously successful there,” she said. “It’s sad they can’t have that here.”

The Baltimore woman said she doesn’t like taxes, “but it’s like cigarettes. They will find a way to pay it. It is a luxury for people.”

{Full story via Baltimore Sun}

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