Campaigners for direct wine shipments in the US have had a mixed month, with Maryland poised to allow shipments, but Delaware refusing even to debate the issue.
Free the Grapes!: ‘encouraged’
The signing of House Bill 1175 and Senate Bill 248 means that, subject to licensing regulations, consumers in Maryland will be able to receive shipments direct from wineries as of 1 July.
Jeremy Benson, executive director of campaigning group Free the Grapes!, welcomed the news, but cautioned that retailers were excluded from the bill.
However, he said, ‘The coalition of supporters is encouraged by legislator comments in the press that indicate a willingness to make such improvements in the future.’
Maryland is set to become the 38th state in the US to allow consumers to buy wine direct from licensed wineries, along with Washington DC.
Together this accounts for about 85% of total US wine consumption.
However, some states continue to resist the move. A House committee in Delaware has now refused to release a bill allowing direct shipping, meaning that the proposed legislation cannot even be debated by the full chamber.
‘It’s a little frustrating that a bill that would allow Delawareans to enjoy what most Americans can already do is not even being allowed to be considered on the House floor,’ said Republican state representative Deborah Hudson, who sponsored the bill.
However, the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission acknowledges that illegal direct shipments are probably commonplace because the legislation is so hard to enforce.
Dismissed as ‘archaic’ by campaigners, the three-tier distribution framework drawn up in the wake of Prohibition in the 1930s channels alcohol sales through licensed distributors and retailers before they can reach the public.
Written by Richard Woodard