HARRISBURG PA – A proposed bill that would allow Pennsylvania wine consumers to order directly from out-of-state wineries, and similarly would allow vinters to ship products directly to buyers, moved Wednesday (May 9, 2012) out of the House Liquor Control Committee, The Pennsylvania Independent online news service reported.
The proposal would cut out the middleman: the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB). It owns and operates about 620 liquor stories in the state. “To those who enjoy wine and want to get it from California or Pennsylvania directly, it’s a major step,” committee chairman and state Rep. John Taylor, R-Philadelphia, said of the measure. “It’s just basic consumer, common-sense stuff.”
The state Senate approved similar legislation, Senate Bill 790, with a unanimous vote in March. A full vote in the House could be scheduled in coming months, or the bill could get tied up with a more controversial and high-profile bid to privatize PLCB and sell off the state-owned liquor stores to raise an estimated $1.6 billion for the budget, The Independent reported.
State law prohibits the direct shipment of wine and liquor to residences. However, PLCB has created a loophole; through its relatively new home delivery system, consumers can order and have delivered any product PLCB carries.
The process is complicated and cumbersome, however, if the variety sought isn’t offered by the board.
Consumers must contact PLCB and ask the agency to place a “special order” with the out-of-state winery. PLCB will contact the producer, purchase the wine and have it delivered to the PLCB store nearest to the consumer who made the request. For home delivery, PLCB will accept the shipment, repackage it and deliver it to the residence through its home-delivery program.
Consumers are charged for the special order, for the initial shipment and for PLCB to turn around and ship it again. So far the board has done $77 million worth of special order sales this year.
- Read a story by reporter Eric Boehm, titled “PA seeks to loosen shipping regs for out-of-state wineries” and published Thursday by The Independent, here.